COLTS NECK, N.J. - A chance to upgrade their resumes for the upcoming NJSIAA tournament was on the line for both the Colts Neck and Holmdel boys lacrosse teams on Wednesday. Grid-locked at 9-9 with five minutes left play, the game was there for the taking for both the Cougars and the Hornets. As the two teams battled for possession of the ball in the Cougars’ zone, it was Jack Kapcsos who came away with the ball and found an open Dan Bunting in front of the net. Bunting fired in the go-ahead goal that ultimately sent the Hornets to a 10-9 victory over Colts Neck to improve to 12-5 on the season.
“Jack (Kapcsos) found me open in front of the net and I took a shot and it happened to go in,” Bunting said about the game-winning goal. “Both teams were playing hard the whole game and we were able to power through to get the win.”
The first half of the contest favored the Hornets, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to Kapcsos and Justin Arredondo.
After Nick Lago got the Cougars on the board with his first of two goals in the opening half to make it a 2-1 game, Kapcsos extended the Hornets’ lead back to two with his second tally of the first quarter by way of a nice assist by teammate Joe Hazel.
Holmdel led 4-1 in the second quarter after Dan Tempone found the back of the net for his first goal of the contest, but Lago continue to keep Colts Neck in the game, notching his second goal of the contest to make it a 4-2 game at the half.
Kapcsos found the net for a third time in just the first minute of the third quarter, wheeling in the hat trick to put the Hornets back up three.
Following a Colts Neck goal by Anastagio Muscara to make it a two score game again, Kapcsos came right back with his team-high fourth of the afternoon to make a 6-3 lead for the Hornets.
“I just played my game out there and continued to have fun playing with my teammates,” Kapcsos said.
After sitting out most of the season because of transferring from Red Bank Catholic, Kapcsos has made an impact on the Hornets, having 20 goals in eight games played.
The back-and-forth third quarter continued with Lago joining the hat trick club to make it 6-4, while teammate Nick Giantasio followed with his first goal of the afternoon to pull Colts Neck within one.
With its lead down to one, Holmdel got the offense back rolling again with Arredondo feeding Hazel for the senior’s first goal of the game to make it a two-goal game. Bunting followed by knocking his first goal of the contest to give Holmdel a 8-5 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Just like Kapcsos, Lago also tallied four goals on the day, his last coming in the opening minutes of the final quarter to pull Colts Neck within two.
That’s back-to-back four goal games for Lago, who also recorded his 100th career point in the contest.
“I knew this was a big game and I was ready to roll from the start,” Lago said. “I’ve really been aggressive going to the net lately and it’s been working for me.”
A Matt Lionette goal extended the Holmdel lead back to three, but Colts Neck answered back as Giantasio started feeling it from the strike, banging in back-to-back goals for the hat trick to make it a 9-8 game with six minutes left to play.
Colts Neck tied the game a minute later as leading scorer Zach Alagna finally got himself in the goal column, slapping one past Holmdel’s goalie Nick Tuccillo to make 9-9.
“Holmdel did a good job shutting down Zach for the most of the game, so it was great to see the rest of the team step up and make big plays,” said Colts Neck boys lacrosse assistant coach Keith Manara.
The game now tied and the momentum on the side of the Cougars now, it was Holmdel needing a spark to take back the lead. As the two foes battled to grab a ground ball, it was Kapcsos who came up with it and fired a sweet pass to Bunting who punched in his second goal of half to put Holmdel back in the lead.
“Feels great to help the team win this game,” Bunting said. “Our team has a lot of heart and doesn’t give up.”
Alagna had a chance later to tie it up again, but his shot was off the mark. Once Holmdel got possession of the ball again they were able to run out the clock and win the game.
With 12 wins on the season, Holmdel just needs one more win this year to give the most wins in a single-season in program history.
“This was an important win for us,” said Holmdel boys lacrosse coach Dale Oehler. “Our goal is trying to up our seeding for the state tournament as much as we can through the end of the regular season. We had our frustrations at times during the game, but we played good enough to win and we got the win.”
Tuccillo finished with nine saves in net for Holmdel. Brandon Cifone had a game-high 15 saves for the Cougars, who drop to 6-8 on the season in the loss.
Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports http://twitter.com/sbassin_sports