CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham figured a way to get by a vaunted Summit defense known for forcing mistakes and capitalizing on them. The Cougars simply didn't make any mistakes.
Chatham played a near-flawless first half to build a six-goal lead and then ran out the clock in the second half to win its seventh straight boys lacrosse game, 8-2 over Summit on Saturday at Cougar Field.
"They always take advantage when you make mistakes," Chatham coach Tony Calandra said. "We didn't make any mistakes today.
"I can't say I expected it because they've been so good over the years. I was pretty confident that we could come out and execute. We didn't put a lot of new stuff in. We concentrated on a couple key aspects. We won 13 out of 14 faceoffs and held them scoreless basically, allowing one goal in each half."
Chatham (9-1) got an early sign that it was going to be its day when the Cougars took a 1-0 lead just 37 seconds into the game. Defensive middie Timmy Adams forced a turnover and picked up the ground ball, passing to long stick Pat Cosgrove, who sprinted into the offensive end and passed left to Mac Bredahl, who fired his shot home.
Bredahl, who finished with three goals and three assists, led a passing game by the Cougars that picked apart Summit's zone defense in the first quarter. After receiving a pass from Thomas Berger, Bredahl used his quick hands to fake a shot and then dodged past his defender to beat Hilltopper goalie Will Vitton up high for a 2-0 lead.
"We came out firing," Bredahl said. "It was good to get up on them and give ourselves confidence. Coming in, we knew we could play with anyone in the state. To beat a team like Summit, 8-2, it gives the team more confidence. We're just going to try and keep it going in the future."
Just 83 seconds after Bredahl's second goal, the junior attack passed from behind the net to Ryan Chase cutting down the middle. Chase finished his chance for a 3-0 lead. The Cougars displayed more crisp passing to score with 11.5 seconds showing in the opening period. Bredahl made a sharp cross-field pass to Connor Byrd, who dropped down for an outside horizontal shot that found the net.
"Summit plays a very tough defense," Bredahl said. "They've done it as long as I've been playing high school. It takes critical passing and passing in tight to beat that team. We were able to do it today and it was a great win."
Mac Bredahl talks about how Chatham broke Summit's zone defense in the first half
Chatham continued to control possession with senior Wlll Hosbein winning 13 of 14 faceoffs in the game. His control of the faceoff to start the second quarter led to Chris Francesco's high blast (see below) from up top just 58 seconds in for a 5-0 cushion.
Ryan Decker picked up his second straight assist for Chatham when he pulled up from a downhill run and threw the ball down low to Frank Anello, who beat the goalie with a hard-angle shot (see below) for a 6-0 Cougar lead.
Summit (8-2) got a goal from Jack Bonomo with 4:22 left in the half, but Chatham got that goal back when Thomas Berger scored off a pass from behind the net from Bredahl, making it a 7-1 game heading into the break.
The two teams pretty much played to a standoff in the second half, with Chatham methodically passing the ball around Summit's zone. The Cougars scored a man-advantage goal early in the third quarter with Francesco passing inside to Bredahl for an in-close finish and an 8-1 lead.
"We never let up," Chatham long stick Chris Conlin said. "We knew Summit could come back and win a tough game, so we just had to stay tough and do what we've been doing. Our passes were actually phenomenal today. All the offensive players took the pressure off of us. It was great. They moved the ball. The ball didn't die in their sticks."
Chatham goalie Ryan Ness only made three saves, but they were key stops and he was protected by the consistently stingy Cougar defense, anchored by Geoff O'Malley, Conlin and Kyle Kology.
"We took advantage of our opportunities," Calandra said. "The shots we had, we put in the goal. I don't know how many shots we took in the first half, but we kind of controlled all facets of the game. We faced off tremendous, we were good defensively, we cleared the ball, we rode well, and we handled their pressure defensively and kind of found our spots and shot well."