CHATHAM, NJ - The Cougars opened by scoring the first three goals of the game and the prospects looked good when Ramapo pretty much conceded the faceoffs to Chatham's Will Hosbein, putting a long stick against him from the second period on.
But the three-goal lead and the home-field advantage disappeared in the middle two quarters when Ramapo built a lead that Chatham couldn't overcome in the fourth quarter.
The result was a 10-8 win by Ramapo in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Group 2 final, ending Chatham's hopes of repeating as Group 2 state champion Saturday at Cougar Field. It was a rematch of the 2016 sectional final won by Chatham, 6-5 in double overtime.
"We did a lot of uncharacteristic things today," Chatham coach Tony Calandra said. "We took some bad shots, we didn't put the ball in the net when we had the opportunity, we gave them some really good opportunities in transition. We didn't find guys in transition.
"We told them before the game to do what we've been doing and we didn't. We did some uncharacteristic things today."
Perhaps, the most uncharacteristic thing about Chatham (16-3) in this game was that it didn't find a way to win. Other than its two losses to Delbarton, there weren't any games in which Chatham went into the final period with fewer goals than its opponent.
"We won the conference but that is about it," Calandra said. "We had our eye on the Group 2 championship and I thought we had an opportunity to get there, but they outplayed us today...at times, at times."
Ramapo (15-5) outscored Chatham, 8-3, in the middle two quarters and scored the first goal of the fourth to take a 10-6 lead. The Cougars had its chances climb back in it, but didn't score until Ryan Decker received pass from Mac Bredahl and fired in an overhand shot with 2:56 left. Thirty-four seconds later, Timmy Adams (see video) picked up a deflected pass from Hosbein and blasted home a 15-yard shot, cutting the deficit to 10-8.
But there was no magical comeback to follow.
The highlight goal of the game for Chatham may have come 4:25 into the third period when Jack Rooney picked up a ground ball and started a break, passing to Bredahl, who quickly sent it to Frank Anello in front for a finish that tied it at 6-6.
In the opening period, Cougar goalie Ryan Ness (9 saves) was on his game, making a big save in a man-down situation and then picking up the ensuing ground ball. That possession led to Decker's downhill run for an unassisted goal and a 1-0 lead.
Just seven seconds later, Chatham struck again. Hosbein won the ensuing faceoff and passed the ball off to Bredahl, who found Byrd on the doorstep for a goal that made it 2-0. Chris Francesco scored the first of his two goals with a downhill run for a power goal that pushed it to 3-0 midway through the first.
In the second period, Francesco converted a pass from Decker to make ti 4-4. Bredahl came from benind to score unassisted with 1:02 left, making it a 5-5 game at the break.
Ryan Decker scores with 2:56 left on a pass from Mac Bredahl
Chris Francesco scores his second goal of the game in the second quarter for Chatham
Mac Bredahl scores unassisted to tie the game at 5-5 for Chatham
COUGAR NOTES: Bredahl finished his junior season with 49 goals and 56 assists for 105 points. His career totals of 96 goals and 103 assists puts him at 199 points.