COLTS NECK, N.J. - On the first hot day of spring, the Colts Neck High School boys lacrosse team mustered up its best effort against undefeated Freehold Township High School in Friday’s game. The Cougars roared out to a one-goal halftime lead, but Freehold fought back in the second half, outscoring Colts Neck 5-3 down the stretch to stay undefeated on the season with a 9-7 victory.
“I thought our team played a great game against Freehold,” said Colts Neck boys lacrosse coach Jeff Rosenberg. “We made a couple mistakes in the second half and they capitalized on them. We made some mistakes, but we did show a lot of improvement out there and that’s what will be really important for us moving forward.”
After a slow start to begin the game, the Cougars got it rolling offensively in the second quarter.
Down 3-2, senior Zack Alagna tied things up for the Cougars by firing in his second goal of the half. Moments later, Colts Neck got its first lead of the game when Nick Giannatasio rocketed a shot from the top of the Freehold zone into the net to give the Cougars a 4-3 lead.
Controlling the ball with just over two minutes remaining in the first half, Alagna struck again for the Cougars. As Colts Neck did a good job passing the ball around the net, Nick DiBella found an open Alagna by the net and the senior slapped in his third goal of the half to extend the Cougars’ lead to two.
“We were all clicking as a unit out there offensively,” Alagna said. “I think once we got the lead, that momentum really helped us play better.”
Matt Graybush scored a goal in the last minute of the half for Freehold to cut the Colts Neck lead to 5-4 going into the half.
At the start of the second half, the Patriots came out firing to regain their lead. Matt Kondrup knocked home the first goal of the third quarter to tie the game, while teammate Chris Novella slapped in his second goal of the afternoon moments later, giving the Patriots a 6-5 lead.
Colts Neck fired back right away as Nick Lago punched home his second goal of the day to tie the game at 6-6.
Nick Elimanco put Freehold back in front moments later with his first goal of the day, leading to the Patriots taking a 7-6 lead into the fourth quarter.
Novella took control of the contest for Freehold in the final period of play. Right away to start the fourth quarter, the junior weaved his way through the Cougars’ defense and knocked home his third goal of the afternoon to extend the Freehold lead to two.
Just seconds later, Novella was at it again, firing home his team-high fourth goal of the game to give Freehold a commanding 9-6 lead.
“After struggling a bit in the first half, I was able to settle down more on the field and that helped me play better,” Novella said. “Our team as a whole really did a good job settling down in the second half. That allowed us to move the ball better offensively and open more scoring opportunities for us.”
Colts Neck tried to mount a rally and with just over six minutes to go in the contest, Alagna knocked in his team-high fourth goal of the day to cut the Cougars’ deficit to two.
Alagna had an assist to go along with a four goal day, giving him now 18 goals on the season.
“Just trying to push my game to another level,” Alagna said about his strong performance to start the season. “Like the team, I’m out there everyday trying to get better.”
Alagna’s goal was the end of the rally for the Cougars as the Patriots were able to shutdown the Colts Neck attack the rest of the game to improve to 5-0 on the season.
Brendan Doel had two goals in the win for Freehold.
Goalie Brendon Cifone had 12 saves in net for Colts Neck in the contest.
With the loss, Colts Neck drops to 2-4 on the season. Despite the loss, Rosenberg said he’s happy with his team’s improvement the last couple of games.
“Every time we get on the field, we’re getting better and better,” Rosenberg said. “We had a tough start to the season and the rough weather didn’t help us to start the season either. Now as we’ve gotten into the flow of the season, the guys are starting to play better as a team and that’s great to see.”
Colts Neck will look to bounce back in its next game on the road against Howell on Thursday.
Follow TAPinto Holmdel and Colts Neck on Twitter @holmdelcntap
Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports