CLARK, NJ -  Arthur L. Johnson High School freshman Evan Parenti scored five goals to power the No. 5 seeded Crusaders past the No. 12 seeded Holmdel High School Hornets in the NJSIAA South, Group 1 First Round matchup by a final score of 12-5 Wednesday afternoon in Clark.

“We didn’t give up and just kept moving the ball quick and stuff started opening up,” Parenti said of his team’s effort.

Johnson got on the board first, when sophomore Eric Bretz put up his 23rd goal of the season at the 4:50-mark of the first quarter.

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Holmdel answered a few minutes later, when Joe Hazel got room and tied the game with his eighth goal of the season at the 7:13-mark of the first quarter. In the closing seconds of the opening quarter, senior Kevin Burmeister gave his team the lead with his 26th goal of the season.

After the first 12 minutes of play, Johnson trailed Holmdel 2-1.

As the second quarter began, Holmdel scored again, just seven seconds into the quarter to take a 3-1 lead.

Johnson would get back into the game as the second quarter went along. Senior Jack Lomeli got his team to within 3-2 at the 7:12-mark of the second quarter with his sixth goal of the season. They continued to pressure Holmdel and give themselves chances to keep scoring.

Parenti tied the game at three at the 5:51-mark of the second quarter and gave his team the 4-3 lead with his second goal of the game at the 7:31-mark of the quarter.

Johnson led Holmdel 4-3 at halftime and the Crusaders would carry the momentum of three unanswered goals into the second half.

Junior Mike Bruno, another one of the major scorers on the Crusaders’ roster, scored his 27th goal at the 4:13-mark of the third quarter, giving Johnson a 5-3 lead.

Johnson continued to pressure Holmdel and won a lot of battles for the groundballs, a factor that stood out as the second half picked up.

Senior and co-captain Brett Roessle got into the scoring mix with his 11th goal of the season, giving the Crusaders a 6-3 lead at the 6:32-mark of the third quarter, making the scoring streak at five straight tallies since Holmdel’s last goal.

“In the first half, we just weren’t running our offense and we weren’t running our plays,” Roessle said. “Once the second half started up, we started getting in sync, working the ball around and got our opportunities and we just scored.”

Bruno added his second goal of the game just 45 seconds later, making the game 7-3 Johnson.

Holmdel ended the Johnson scoring streak with a goal at the 9:09-mark of the third quarter, but that was as close as they would get at trimming Johnson’s lead.

Johnson held a 7-4 lead over Holmdel as the game shifted to the fourth quarter.

Parenti secured the hat trick with a goal at the 2:14-mark of the fourth quarter. He would add two more goals, with his team in full control with a 10-4 lead. He now leads the team with 34 goals on the season.

“I think it was the perseverance. We were getting good looks at the cage, but they weren’t falling in,” Johnson head coach Lou Van Bergen said. “We told them in the huddles, ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t worry about the shot that you just took, think about the next one that you’re going to get.’”

“We worked hard, we didn’t panic,” Van Bergen added. “We’ve been in a tough situation, we hadn’t played in a week since Livingston [on May 10], so we were a little rusty in the beginning. Once we figured a few things out and we started to just play more and things came together a little for us.”

Sophomore Brandon Hund tallied his 26th goal at the 8:05-mark of the fourth quarter to make the score 11-4. Senior Nick Fischetti would add a goal of his own, as the Crusaders closed out the game to secure a spot in the next round of the state tournament.

“It’s late in the season and we’re all working together, everyone’s clicking and everyone’s getting along on the field,” Bruno said. “We just have to keep working hard and do the little things like working on the stick skills and ground balls.”

In net, Johnson sophomore goaltender Josh Hill made seven saves on 12 shots.

The Johnson Crusaders (12-4) advance to the NJSIAA South, Group 1 Quarterfinals. They will play Saturday at No. 4 seeded Haddonfield Memorial HS. The time of the game is TBD.

“Since my freshman year, we went on the run [winning first state sectional championship in 2014], so it means anyone can beat anyone,” Johnson senior defender and co-captain Vin Campbell said. “Every day of practice, you’ve got to come out and take it like it’s the last and go harder or go home.”

The Holmdel Hornets finish their 2017 season with a 10-9 record.

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