CHATHAM, NJ - The top-seeded Cougars would never admit it out of respect for their opponents, but it certainly looks like the state tournament is a much easier road to navigate than the regular season.
Senior Colin Hart scored three of his four goals during a 10-goal first period that sent Chatham to a 16-2 win over No. 9 seed Wayne Valley in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Group 3 state tournament quarterfinals on Friday at Cougar Field.
In its state tournament wins over No. 6 Fair Lawn and Wayne Valley, Chatham (13-6) has forged a 33 to 3 scoring advantage.
"They had a great season but it's a step up in level for them," Chatham coach Tony Calandra said. "We work hard in practice every day. I expect these guys will be more prepared for their next game than they were today. We just have to keep pushing each other in practice. We have eyes set on one game at a time and we don't want to go home."
The survivor of Saturday's matchup between No. 5 seed Scotch Plains-Fanwood (10-7) and No. 4 Cranford (16-2) will move on to meet Chatham in the sectional semifinal, likely Tuesday or Wednesday at Cougar Field.
Hart's scoring was complemented by classmate Patrick Conte, who produced a goal and five assists. The two seniors talk about the state tournament in the video below.
Chatham showed that it wasn't taking anything for granted by charging the net hard from the first whistle. Hart scored the first goal on a feed from Danny Mahoney (see the video below) just 37 seconds into the action.
Aidan Decker then put away a hard-angle shot off a pass from Conte (see video) before Conte set up James Platek's goal that made it 3-0 (see video).
A half a minute later, Hart intercepted a pass and finished his run to the cage with a goal for a 4-0. Decker and Mahoney followed with goals before Hart converted a pass from Grant Webster to earn his hat trick with 2:49 showing in the opening period.
Ryan Coughlin then won the ensuing faceoff and took it straight to the goal and finished. Conte's fourth assist led to a Webster goal that made it 10-0. Mason Agostinelli scored off a pass from Nick Jones in the third quarter for an 11-0 lead (see video below).