CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham boys lacrosse team is starting to fill in the middle of its game and it showed during a 13-3 domination of previously unbeaten Bernards on Saturday at Cougar Field.
The defense has been stellar and the attack has been good in the early going this season for the defending Group 2 state champions. The missing piece has been the offensive production from the midfield.
The Cougars (3-1) had eight different players score goals against Bernards (4-1), including middies Max Schelling, Chris Francesco, Evan Gavalakis and Thomas Berger.
"The middies, this is the best game they've played," Chatham coach Tony Calandra said. "We've really been trying to work on their shooting and getting them to play with a little more continuity in the midfield."
Chatham moved to a 5-0 advantage in the first period to take a comfortable lead. Frank Anello opened the scoring with the first of his two goals on a pass from Ryan Decker. A minute later, Schelling made a downhill run and finished with a high blast to make it 2-0. It stayed that way until Gavalakis (2 goals) broke free in front and put away a sharp pass from Connor Byrd with 3:33 to go in the first.
Junior attack Mac Bredahl (3 goals, 1 assist) picked up a ground ball off the ensuing faceoff and took it in himself, faking a shot off a move to his right and then spinning left for his finish and a 4-0 lead. Francesco capped the first quarter with his downhill drive to the goal for a hard shot that made it 5-0. That was a key goal, according to Calandta.
"He's been shooting the ball so hard that his aim was off," Calandra said. "So we tried to get him take a little off his shot, maybe five miles (per hour) and be able to put it where he wants it. This is the first time he did it and it worked."
The offense stalled a bit in the second quarter, but Berger scored a last-second goal to make it 6-1 at the break for the Cougars. Chatham had called time out with 7.5 seconds left and Berger made his run to the net and scored from a hard angle with less than a second showing.
"We were never in danger of losing the game, but we lost our rhythm and made some mistakes," Calandra said.
Long-stick middle Pat Cosgrove also got into the scoring with a pass that led to an Anello goal in the third quarter. Byrd's goal off a Schelling feed made it 8-2.
In the fourth quarter, Bredahl scored on a move from behind the net and then scored again after Decker intercepted a clear pass and sent it back inside to his classmate. Francesco and Gavalakis each collected their second goals of the game before Ryan Chase closed out the scoring.
Frank Anello scores the first of his two goals for Chatham vs. Bernards on a pass from Ryan Decker
Mac Bredahl just misses putting away this behind-the-back shot in the second half