MADISON, NJ - Following the Dodger’s historic win in the Group 1 state championship game against Mountain Lakes, I got a chance to catch up with first year head coach Bryan Armstrong. The win was Madison’s first Group 1 state championship, a game in which Madison had lost to suffered a loss to last year 7-2 against Mountain Lakes as well.
Coach Armstrong responding to what this win meant to the team; “This is a great accomplishment for our team and community. These boys have dedicated themselves to finding success. Our coaching staff is extremely proud of the effort they give on a consistent basis and they earned this title."
The title game, which Madison won 9-6 last Wednesday at Livingston high school, came as sweet revenge to the Dodgers. The team had played for the group championship four times previously, but had never been able to bring home the title.
“Our game plan was to simply focus on Madison Dodger lacrosse. We believe in our systems and executing them at a high level. We knew that mental and physical toughness, winning the ground ball battle, and shooting with accuracy would be keys,” said Armstrong on what the team’s game plan was going into the game.
Although the first year head coach was not with the team last year in their loss to Mountain Lakes, he knew the importance the game had for the team.
“I knew what this game meant a lot to the community and the boys. After losing in the title game last year to ML [Mountain Lakes] we knew that we needed the opportunity again this year. We kept our focus on getting to this point all season. Our boys showcased their ability against a top program and earned a great win and a chance to keep competing,” said Armstrong.
That ability was sure on display, especially by Ian Waresk who had four goals in the Dodger upset over No. 14 ranked Lakers.
“Ian Waresk has been a pivotal player in our offense all season. He has the ability to score and create and draws the eyes of a defense. With him drawing attention and finishing in the championship game it opened up a lot of opportunities for other players including Jackson Cox, Pat Grahling, Ryan Schmitz, Charlie Cleaves and Will Anton. Ian appreciates the opportunities he has but also realizes and appreciates the five other offensive players that he has on the field with him,” said Armstrong.
With the Group 1 state championship under their belt, Madison now turns their attention to the New Jersey Tournament of Champions, which pits all of the group state champions against each other in order to ultimately decide the best team in the state. Madison has been pitted against No. 5 Ramapo scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m.
“Our team understands the opportunity that we have in front of us and we take great pride in representing Madison high school and the proud Dodger Alumni that have laid the foundation for this game. Every team playing in the ToC has worked extremely hard for this and it is our responsibility to execute with energy while representing our group and our community,” said Armstrong.