MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ - The Madison Varsity Boys’ Lacrosse Team fell to Delbarton 9-4 in an away game in the Morris County Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon. Billy Battaglia, Colin McLinden, Martin Horn, and Chad Smith scored goals, and McLinden’s face-off skills coupled with Brett Anton’s saves kept the team motivated until the fourth quarter, when Delbarton went on a 4-0 run to clinch a victory of 9-4.
McLinden assisted attack man Billy Battaglia for the first goal two minutes in and won the next face-off, but an off sides call turned the ball over to Delbarton and Clay Haarmann capitalized by assisting Anthony Heaton with a goal. McLinden won another face-off and transitioned straightaway for a goal fifteen seconds later, but Delbarton retaliated in the last five minutes: Heaton rushed Madison’s defense and scored at 5:02 and Sean Donnelly and Jack Clarke each squeezed in a goal in the last 25 seconds, ending the quarter with Delbarton up 4-2.
“Every year [Delbarton] is the top defense in the state, but our team came out with intensity in the whole first half. We made a few mistakes and couldn’t clear the ball, but minus those mistakes, we were in it the entire game; it would have been a 5-5 game at halftime if we hadn’t made those mistakes,” McLinden commented after the game.
A push by Delbarton at the end of the first gave Madison possession at the start of the second, but Connor Bilby of Delbarton assisted John Shaffer with the first goal at 10:21. McLinden assisted Martin Horn with a goal three minutes later and Madison’s defense warded off Delbarton in the last five minutes, ending the quarter with Delbarton up 5-3. Madison took a total of 12 shots on goal and Delbarton took 11 in the first half.
“We used the time outs a lot to get possession of the ball. I think they came out pretty tough, we were excited to play. It was 5-4 after 3, but you need to score more than four goals to win a game. I thought we had some shots that I thought we could score, but we had bad locations and we threw the ball away a little bit and couldn’t clear the ball a couple times,” Madison Coach Mark Sweeney commented.
A stalemate of four blocked shots by each team froze the start of the third quarter until Battaglia broke the ice by assisting Chad Smith with a goal at 5:56 from the 30-yard line, bringing hope to Madison. Delbarton racked up two push penalties in the last two minutes, enabling Madison to keep the ball until the last four seconds, ending the quarter with Delbarton up 5-4.
“It was a lot of teamwork, we got a lot of ground balls towards the end, it was a close game. Madison’s a good team, but we needed to do some of the little things in order to have the big things open up, and we started to get ground balls in the second half, started passing, moving the ball faster, and cutting, and it opened things up for us,” John Shaffer of Delbarton commented.
McLinden won the face-off at the start of the fourth, but Delbarton’s offense raged for the entirety of the quarter and tallied up four goals: Shaffer had two goals and Peter McMullen and Cole Riccardi each scored one. Delbarton still possessed the ball when the game ended with a score of 9-4.
Delbarton Coach Chuck Ruebling said, “We lost the 2nd and 3rd quarter, our backs were against the wall, and if we wanted to advance we had to take it to them, and the guys responded. We had some nice defensive stops and we were able to find the net, finally.”
With regard to the Delbarton rivalry, Sweeney said, “It’s always a challenge. They’ve got great athletes at every position. We have 13 kids, and they have 40 kids that run waves at you.”
Madison will play against Randolph in a home game next Thursday at 4 pm.
The two teams, with brightly colored lacrosse shorts put good show for the spectators.