NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - In the second round of the Union County Tournament, the fifth-seeded Johnson Crusaders defeated the fourth-seeded New Providence Pioneers, 10-5. With the win, Johnson improves to 11-3 while New Providence falls to 6-7.

Joe D’Anna and Tyler Lawton led New Providence with three and two goals, respectively, while Mike Bruno and Evan Parenti paced the Crusaders with three goals apiece. Brundon Hund chipped in with a pair of goals, and Eric Bretz and Nick Fischetti scored one each for the Crusaders.

The Crusaders came in with a solid gameplan that worked to near perfection.

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“We had the luxury of playing these guys early on in the season so we kind of knew their tendencies coming in to this match,” Johnson head coach Louis Van Bergen said. “We spent a lot of time looking at tape so we could get in our guys heads the best way to attack them.”

Both teams took a while to get going offensively as Hund scored the game’s first goal with 6:58 remaining in the first quarter to give Johnson a 1-0 lead.

The Pioneers answered quickly thanks to a D’Anna shot that fired past Johnson goalie Josh Hill to tie things at one apiece.

The Crusaders would score two more goals by the time the quarter ended thanks to goals from Hund and Parenti.    

The Pioneers opened the second quarter scoring when Thomas McGrath found D’Anna up top for the goal that brought the Pioneers to within one.

The teams went nearly ten minutes without scoring another goal.The drought was broken when Eric Bretz found Bruno in front of the goal to make it 4-2 with 1:39 remaining in the half.

The Crusaders scored another goal before the half to extend their lead to three.

What can’t be understated is the defensive tenacity shown by the Crusaders during the first half and that tenacity extended into the third quarter. In addition to scoring two goals of their own, the Crusaders held the Pioneers to just one goal in the third stanza.

“We knew what they could do offensively,” Van Bergen said. “Our goalie Josh Hill bailed us out on several occasions and played out of his mind today.”

What was even more impressive about the Crusaders’ defense was the job they did on New Providence’s Tyler Lawton. The Crusaders made things miserable for Lawton, one of the county’s top players, throughout the contest.

“”Our biggest focus was to take Lawton out of the game,” Van Bergen said. “Lawton’s a stud and he’s going to Syracuse for a reason. We knew that if we stopped him, we’d have a strong chance of winning.”

Even when Lawton scored a goal with 8:46 remaining to pull his team to within four, the Crusaders never folded. The Crusaders once again clamped down on defense and got help on offense via goals from Bretz and Parenti to put the game out of reach at 10-4.

Up next, the Crusaders will face the No. 1 seeded Summit on Thursday, May 4 at Johnson. New Providence will host Watchung Regional High School on Saturday, May 6 with a 2 p.m. start.

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