CHATHAM, NJ - Whether there is disagreement with the call or not, there is no denying that it gave Westfield a huge lift in the fourth quarter of its boys lacrosse battle with Chatham on Thursday at Cougar Field.
Chatham was up two goals and appeared to be in control when Cougar attack Grant Webster tried to ride Westfield long stick Griffin Aslanian out of bounds near midfield. The flag was thrown and Aslanian continued on goal, scoring to slice the Blue Devils' deficit to one.
The non-releasable two-minute penalty call on Webster was followed by three straight goals that sparked Westfield to a 9-8 win that snapped Chatham's five-game winning streak.
"A call is a call, but I just think at that point two minutes has got to be an egregious penalty," Chatham coach Tony Calandra said. "I didn't see it as an egregious penalty. If anything I saw it as just a push. They were both kind of riding each other out and that was it. It was a clean game. There were really no penalties the whole game. Two minutes has got to be egregious."
What made the call stand out, other than the timing, was that it turned out to be the only flag thrown in the entire game, which was physical throughout.
After Aslanian's goal made it, 6-5, with 6:57 left in the fourth quarter, Devon McLane scored two straight man-advantage goals just 24 seconds apart to stake the Blue Devis to a 7-6 edge with 6:08 showing.
After Chatham freshman goalie Ryan Boyd made a clutch save to stem the tide momentarily, Westfield's Mack Prybylski connected for an 8-6 lead with 4:24 left.
Cougar sophomore Nick Jones finally broke the drought with a goal (see the video below) that cut it to 8-7 for Chatham (5-1) with 1:16 to play.
But defender Aslanian struck again, scoring his second goal to give Westfield (3-3) a 9-7 advantage with just 36 seconds left. Colin Hart then won the ensuing faceoff and fired home an overhand shot for Chatham with 28.9 seconds on the clock.
Hart then won the faceoff again, but Chatham was unable to get off a potential game-tying shot in the final seconds.
In the first half, middie Aidan Decker had scored three goals to stake Chatham to a 5-3 lead heading into the break. See two of his goals in the videos below.
Chatham will have to regroup quickly since Summit is coming to Cougar Field Saturday for a 2 p.m. game.
"We fought hard, we played well," Calandra said. "We fought back when we were down two. We'll take the positives out of it and move on."
COUGAR NOTES: Freshman goalie Ryan Boyd was on his game for Chatham, netting a save with 1:35 left in the first half and then coming up big again with 8:50 left in the fourth quarter to preserve a 6-4 lead ... Chatham junior goalie Trey Von Heill, who has been out with a thumb injury, was in uniform for the Westfield game and could return soon. "Trey is on his way back," Calandra said. "He's been practicing." ... The calls didn't go Chatham's way last year, either, in an 8-7 overtime loss at Westfield when the Cougars lost possession after being called for "too many men on the field" just before Westfield scored in OT. "They said we did, but we didn't," Calandra said.