MADISON, NJ - Delbarton and Chatham are no strangers to each other as Chatham fell to Delbarton 12-3 earlier in the year. Unfortunately, the Cougars quest for revenge was halted as Delbarton beat Chatham 10-7 to win the Morris County Championship at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Madison Campus.
Delbarton received three goals and an assist from senior Grant Van Fossan, while senior Kevin Lewis, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament, added two goals and an assist.
The Green Wave started strong as they scored two goals in the opening minute to seize momentum. Lewis opened up the scoring just 30 seconds into the game. Junior Matthew Oplinger added to the lead as he ran down the field in transition and scored off a Cougar turnover.
Lewis and the Green Wave were anxious to push the tempo early and often.
“We were told to come out with focus and energy,” Lewis said. “We also really wanted it in that first quarter and I think we did a great job of coming out fast.”
Delbarton scored two more goals as Lewis hooked up with Van Fossan off of good ball movement with 6:12 left and senior Matt Killian fed Van Fossan off a skip pass on a 2-man up to finish the first quarter scoring.
Despite outshooting the Green wave 8-5 in the first quarter, Chatham was unable to get past Delbarton’s defense and goaltender John Schesler who had four saves in the period until Sam Carson found the net with 40 seconds to play.
The second quarter went the same way as the first quarter, as Delbarton converted on another man-up opportunity when Thomas Fowler found Van Fossan for his third goal of the night. Then junior Robbie Arancio found Fowler for a goal three minutes later off an invert from behind the net.
Delbarton constantly forced and took advantage of Chatham turnovers. Never was this more evident than their seventh goal when Lewis scored off of Chatham’s Owen Hewes who lost the ball on the endline.
Delbarton ended the half up 8-1 despite trailing in both faceoffs (6-4) and shots (12-10).
The third quarter would be a stalemate as neither team scored. Chatham had a long possession to begin the quarter but could not figure out the stout Delbarton defense. After holding Chatham’s offense scoreless Delbarton’s offense took the air out of the ball to give their defense a break.
After the third quarter, Delbarton’s defense held Chatham scoreless for almost two quarters of play. Senior defenseman Will Reynolds credited the short sticks for the defensive success.
“They have some great athletes on their team so focused on on-ball defense,” Reynolds said. “Also our short sticks did a great job of shutting them down and John (Schesler) came up with some big saves.”
Unfortunately for Delbarton, the Cougars wouldn’t go quietly into the night as they ended a two quarter scoring drought with 6:33 remaining in the game. Thomas Guida and Carson both scored back-to-back goals to cut the lead down to 9-3. Delbarton quickly stormed back off their vaunted transition game as faceoff man Austin Williams won the draw and fed Van Fossan who found Fowler for the Green Wave’s last goal.
Reynolds and the rest of the Green Wave defense thought they had the game in hand.
“We let down our guard and we thought they would kind of go away after we shut them down in the third quarter,” he said.
However, this was not the case as Chatham continued their comeback and scored the final four goals of the game, two more coming from the stick of Carson, however, it came too little too late for the Cougars there was simply not enough time for a comeback.
As the final buzzer, sounded Delbarton rushed the field to celebrate their victory.
“We have a great group of kids who we love to be with,” Delbarton head coach Chuck Ruebling said. “They work hard in practice and the success we have is due to chemistry and teamwork.”
Delbarton remains undefeated at 15-0 while Chatham drops to 14-4 on the season, with both teams hosting state tournament games on Saturday.