CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham boys lacrosse team began defense of its 2016 Group 2 state championship on Saturday with a business-like 14-4 win over Voorhees at Cougar Field.
The Cougars shook off the rust from their 10-day respite from real games by moving to a 5-0 lead in the first period and methodically closing out its 15th victory of the season.
"I thought we played solid," Chatham coach Tony Calandra said. "We practiced well. It's not like we've been sluggish. I don't think we were pressing. We just missed some shots. When you're winning faceoffs and playing well defensively, it gives you time to figure things out."
Chatham (15-2) started to figure things out five minutes into the game when Ryan Chase connected from up top off a pass from behind from Mac Bredahl (1 goal, 3 assists). Defensive middie Timmy Adams connected on a shot in transition and Thomas Berger converted a pass from Bredahl to give the Cougars three goals in a little more than a minute.
Chase's second goal with 3:53 left in the first period was an unusual one. Bredahl took a shot that sailed over the top of the goal and into the stick of Chase, who came from behind to put his chance away, making it 4-0. Connor Byrd (3 goals two assists) then scored off a Frank Anello pass to make ti 5-0.
Timmy Adams talks about Chatham's 10-day layoff between games
Ryan Chase scores the first goal of the game for Chatham vs. Voorhees
Byrd's unassisted goal (see below) and Chris Francesco's goal off a Byrd pass made it a 7-1 Cougar lead at the break. Adams scored his second goal of the game in the third quarter and Byrd scored off a feed from Chris Grosso to make it 9-1 advantage.
Connor Byrd scores an unassisted goal in the second quarter for Chatham
After Francesco scored on a downhill run with 3:22 left in the third, senior middie Evan Gavalakis picked up a ground ball and an assist in one motion to set up Max Schelling's goal for an 11-2 lead. Gavalakis hustled to pick up a ground ball and shoveled it to Schelling, who turned it into a goal.
Berger, Bredahl - on a pass from Ryan Decker - and Sean Valenti closed out the scoring in the fourth period for the Cougars.
Top-seeded Chatham plays at home vs. No 4 seed Vernon (13-6) in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Group 2 semifinals on Tuesday at Cougar Field.