CHATHAM, NJ - There were anticipated and surprise positives for the Chatham boys lacrosse team to take out of its sixth straight win, a 16-6 decision over West Morris on Thursday at Cougar Field.
The anticipated was the emergence of junior Ryan Decker, who notched four goals and an assist, and the surprise was a trick play pulled off by defender Chris Conlin and goalie Jack O'Neill.
Decker, coming off a big game against Westfield on Tuesday, picked up where he left off the last game by connecting off a Connor Byrd pass for the first goal of the game. The middie came up with three goals and assist in sparking Chatham (8-1) to a 7-3 advantage.
"He's always been a very solid player and we've been wondering when he was going to come into his own," Chatham coach Tony Calandra said. "No one works as hard as him. He's out here every day shooting buckets of balls after practice. You can see his confidence growing lately. Sometimes that's all it takes is confidence."
Conlin and O'Neill pulled off a slight-of-stick play in which Conlin made a fake flip to O'Neill to trick the opposition into thinking the goalie had the ball. While O'Neill drew defenders to him by running around the net, Conlin took off down field.
"It's called 'Batman," that's what we call it, where I pretend to flip the ball into O'Neill's stick and I just take off," Conlin said. "It's a play that Syracuse ran. Unfortunately, it didn't work out the way we wanted. (Connor) Byrd threw it back to me and I dropped it. When O'Neill came in, we discussed it and we knew we were going to do it. No one else on the team knew we were going to do it."
The deception worked so well that Conlin's teammates had no idea he had the ball, and neither did Calandra.
"I thought Jack (O'Neill) had the ball," Calandra said. "Seton Hall did that to us last year and they came close to scoring. They practice that themselves, so I was not privy to it."
West Morris proved to be good preparation for Saturday's home matchup against Summit, 4:30 at Cougar Field, since Summit also plays a zone defense.
"We moved the ball well and we didn't allow their zone to bother us," Calandra said. "We took good shots. They play zone and Summit plays zone. It's like having two zone teams together. Our transition game is the best it's been."
One of those key transition players, longstick middie Pat Cosgrove was on his game, as were defensive middies Timmy Adams and Jack Rooney. Cosgrove sprinted forward and scored on a shot from up top after receiving a pass from Byrd (2 goals, 3 assists).
In the third quarter, Cosgrove made a clear and passed in transition to Mac Bredahl, who put it away for an 11-4 lead. Cosgrove was involved again later in the third period when he passed to Bredahl in transition and that led to a fluid pass to Byrd for the score and a 13-4 advantage.
Chatham's balanced scoring included a goal and an assist from Frank Anello, two goals from Max Schelling, two goals and three assists from Bredahl, and a goal and an assist apiece from Chris Francesco and Grant Webster.
The Cougars also received goals from Thomas Berger and Cade Krauss.
Ryan Decker scores one of his team-leading four goals vs. West Morris
Max Schelling connects for Chatham