LIVINGSTON, NJ — In order to win a title, a team must show the heart of a champion and on Saturday the Livingston boys lacrosse team did just that in a 9-7 victory over Montclair Kimberly Academy in the first round of the Essex County Tournament.
“They are a very good team. That’s the best 10 seed that you’re going to see in any County Tournament and I didn’t want to play them in the first round [because] they’re always well coached, they play hard, they have good shooters and I didn’t want to play them in the first round,” said Livingston head coach Brad Dzama.
Down 6-5 early in the fourth quarter with the momentum swinging the Cougars’ way, Livingston needed to dig deep. The Lancers proceeded to turn the momentum in their favor thanks in part to one of their leaders, Jason Scher.
“We just had to play better defense and just focus on clearing the ball, get it to our offense and we knew we could score goals if we got it to our offense—we knew we could score some goals if we had some time with the ball,” said Dzama.
Scher tallied two goals that sandwiched goals by Luke Nardine and Eddie O’Donnell to send Livingston onto a 9-6 lead and eventual victory. Scher noted that the team members are confident in themselves and never worried about the outcome of the game, just on their execution.
“We just told our guys to be more aggressive, shoot when they had the ball,” said Scher. “Freshman Luke Nardone stepped up and had a huge goal and after that we kept the momentum.”
Scher was brilliant in the contest, as he finished the game with a final tally of six points off of three goals and three assists. His effort is status quo, according to his coach, who relies on him to run the teams offense.
“[Scher] is the quarterback of our offense, he’s so smart for the game, his lacrosse IQ is very good,” said Dzama. “He let the game come to him a little more—big players make big plays in big games.”
While Scher handled the offensive side defensively, Stephen Russo locked down the cage for Livingston.
Russo notched five fourth-quarter saves to crush any thoughts of an MKA victory. Russo finished with 15 saves for the contest, which has become standard for the keeper, who will continue his playing career at the next level at Cleveland State.
“There’s no words to say how big it is to have him in the goal,” said Dzama. “He has over 700 career saves, he’s going division one to play goalie and he coaches our guys up…he’s special.”
For the Lancers, the victory is one of their better efforts throughout this season. While Scher and Russo highlighted the win, solid supplemental efforts from Eddie O’Donnell, Luke Nardine, Brian Russo and Dylan Middlebaum proved to be critical in the Lancers ending up victorious.
“For us, it was the best win this season because it was a team win,” said Dzama.
Livingston will move to 8-4 on the season. The team is heating up at the right time with wins in four of their last five games. The Lancers head to No. 2 seed Glen Ridge on Tuesday looking to continue their run at a County Title.
“We need a team effort and sometimes we need that guy who you don’t think is going to step up to step up,” said Dzama.