MONTVILLE, NJ - The memory is still vivid for Chatham senior Kyle Kology. The senior defender still remembers what it felt like to come within three seconds of winning Chatham's first-ever Morris County Tournament championship in 2015.
Kology and his Cougar teammates earned another chance to make Chatham history when it eliminated Mountain Lakes from the MCT boys lacrosse semifinal round, 7-2, on Saturday at Montville High.
Chatham (14-1) will take a 12-game winning streak into the Morris County Tournament final against Delbarton, set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at FDU in Madison.
"Flashback to 2015 when I was a sophomore," Kology said. "That overtime loss (to Delbarton) hurt and there are still some kids on this team who were with me on that field and we're hungry."
Chatham was leading in the MCT final two years ago when Delbarton scored with three seconds left in regulation and then won it in overtime.
Chatham, eliminated by Mountain Lakes in the 2016 semifinals, left no doubt in this one. The Cougars moved to a 3-0 lead in the opening period and never let the Lakers (10-3) get back in it.
Senior long stick Kyle Kology and junior attack Mac Bredahl talk about reaching the MCT final
Playing through some raindrops in the first quarter, Chatham moved the ball quickly on offense and took a 1-0 lead 3:10 into the action Ryan Decker blasted home a shot (see below) from up top off a pass from behind from Mac Bredahl, who sparked the offense with two goals and four assists.
Connor Byrd made it 2-0 for Chatham when he cut down the middle and made a catch-and-finish of a Bredahl pass from behind. Bredahl pushed the score to 3-0 with 1:02 left in the opening period. Decker fed the ball to a cutting Bredahl, who came from behind and turned to connect with angled shot on the run.
Junior goalie Ryan Ness was on his game, too, stopping the initial shot he saw in the second quarter and making another big save before Mountain Lakes broke up the shutout on a goal by Matt Palazzi with 58 seconds showing in the half.
But Thomas Berger rocketed home a shot off a feed from Decker with just 30 seconds left to give the Cougars a 4-1 lead at the break. A year earlier, Mountain Lakes had rallied in the second half to defeat Chatham in the semifinal round.
"I know they play a full 48 minutes," Chatham coach Tony Calandra said. "I thought the key to the game was ground balls, especially coming into the second half. We had to win the ground-ball battle. (Connor Byrd) got some big ones. It was a total team effort. We've been solid all year long. It's not just one guy, it's everybody.
"We talked about it during the week. We knew they'd play 48 minutes and we had to match their intensity."
Mountain Lakes scored to make it 4-2 in the third quarter, but Chatham answered 48 seconds later when Max Schelling made a downhill run and sent a beautiful pass across the net to Bredahl, who stuffed it into the net for a 5-2 lead.
Frank Anello scored the first of his two goals (see video below) on a pass from behind from Bredhal. And to cap it off the ball-hungry Chatham defense picked up one of those crucial ground balls and turned it into the final goal of the game. Timmy Adams picked up the ball and raced forward in transition. Adams got the ball to Bredahl, who made a fluid pass to Anello for the goal.
"I don't think we had any lapses in our transition game," Kology said. "Coach said that's where they were going to hurt us, but settled six-on-six, we were quick to slide. We played great as a unit."
Frank Anello puts away a pass from Mac Bredahl to give Chatham a 6-2 lead in the third quarter