HOLMDEL, N.J. - A playoff type atmosphere was in the air on Thursday night in the Holmdel High School boys lacrosse team’s home opener against Southern Regional. The two Shore Conference foes battled back and forth to a deadlock 5-5 tie at the end of regulation to force overtime. In the golden goal overtime period, the Hornets were unable to draw first blood, watching Nick Fontana knock in his game-high fourth goal of the season to give Southern Regional the victory.
“I’m proud of the way our team played today,” said Holmdel boys lacrosse coach Dale Oehler. “Southern Regional is one of the best teams in the Shore Conference. To play them hard like we did shows we can play with anyone in our conference.”
Down 1-0 in the first quarter, Holmdel got their offense going with Justin Cohen’s goal to tie the game up.
Moments later, Dan Tempone got himself in the scoring column, fighting his way through a couple Southern Regional defenders to bang in his first goal of the game to give Holmdel a 2-1 lead.
With under a minute left in the quarter, Alex Van Name found a wide open Jake Preziose cutting towards the net, who slashed in his fourth goal of the season give Holmdel a 3-1 lead going into the second quarter.
Preziose scored a game-high three goals for Holmdel in its 6-4 season opening win over South Brunswick on Wednesday.
“Jake has great pose on the field,” Oehler said. “This is his third year starting on varsity and you can see how that helps him play smart on the field. He’s a guy that can really help get our offense going.”
The Holmdel offense though was shutout in the second quarter, allowing Southern Regional to get back into the game. Fontana struck for back-to-back goals in the quarter to make it a tie game at the half.
Southern Regional retook the lead to begin the third quarter, with Fontana this feeding a great assist to Anielle Russo for a Rams goal that put Holmdel down one.
Holmdel responded later on in the third quarter as Preziose fired a great pass to Tempone in the front of the Southern Regional’s net, allowing the junior to knock in his second goal of the contest to tie the game at 4-4.
Still tied at 4-4 in the fourth quarter, Preziose put the Hornets back in front, sliding his way into the Rams’ zone to bank home his second goal of the game.
Preziose has five goals scored through the first two games of the season for Holmdel.
Trying to hang on to its one-goal lead, Holmdel was unable to slow down Fontana, seeing the junior scored his third goal of the contest to tie the game at 5-5 with 5:55 left to play in regulation.
Each team earned a penalty kill in the next couple of minutes, leading to Holmdel gaining possession with under a minute left in regulation. Oehler called a timeout with 39 seconds left to draw up a play to set-up a game-winning goal opportunity for Holmdel.
The Hornets though failed to take advantage of the opportunity, misfiring on a couple shots on goal to allow the game to go into overtime.
“We didn’t put any good shots on goal there in the final minute,” Oehler said. “We had trouble shooting in general during the entire game. Repetition and being able to play more outside with the weather getting nicer should help us with that as we go deeper into the season.”
Southern Regional won the opening face-off to begin the overtime period, allowing them to control the pace of the four-minute extra period.
With just over two minutes to play in overtime, Fontana found a open hole in the Hornets defense and off a nice pass from Russo, fired in the game-winning goal to give the Rams the win.
“I found an open spot on the field and put the ball in the net,” Fontana said. “It’s just like any shot you take during the game. It feels good to help the team grind out a hard fought win.”
With the loss, Holmdel drops to 1-1 on the season.
Nick Tuccillo had 11 saves in net for the Hornets in the loss.
“It would have been nice to get the win, but I think our play in this game makes us feel better about ourselves going forward into the season,” Oehler said. “Our defense has played very well to start off the season. Nick has been great in goal. We just have get tighten up our offense and get better at shooting on goal.”
Holmdel will next travel to play Toms River North on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
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