CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham boys lacrosse team may have shown a glimpse of the team it can be this season in the fourth quarter when it pulled away for its 6-2 win over Montclair on Saturday at Cougar Field.
Goals by Jack Berger, Ted Manitta and Cullen Decker keyed a 3-0 surge in the fourth quarter for Chatham (2-3) after neither team had scored in the third period. Chatham led at the half, 3-2.
Chatham coach Tony Calandra knew that the Cougar team that lost to Westfield, 13-1, on Wednesday was not indicative of his developing 2021 team, which he considers a work in progress at this point.
"Again, it's going to take some time," Calandra said. "It's a young group that hasn't played in a year. In a normal year, it's still preseason. It's going to take time and they know that."
An encouraging sign came in the fourth quarter when senior Tom Hyland picked up a ground ball, sprinted forward and fed the ball to James Platek, who quickly sent the ball to a cutting Manitta for the finish and a 5-2 Chatham lead with 7:21 to go (see below).
"We finally got a little transition," Calandra said. "We work on it every day, so it's nice to see."
Jack Berger, Tom Hyland and Teddy Manitta talk about the win
Berger scored the second of his two goals for Chatham with 8:21 left in the fourth quarter with a downhill run and an overhand shot (see below) for a 4-2 advantage.
The Cougars capped the scoring when Manitta passed to a wide-open Decker, who put away his underhand shot for a 6-2 lead with 3:33 showing (see below).
"We got some good shots out of transition," Calandra said. "We shot the ball well. We're looking for one or two good, quality shots every time we possess the ball. We're working on that. We're worried about quality shots, not quantity.
"For the most part, we had low turnovers. We possessed the ball. The other team can't score when you're on offense. It will get there. The big difference in the Westfield game was that we didn't win any faceoffs, it was 90 degrees and we were on defense the whole time. That's a complete game-changer."
In the opening quarter, senior attack Platek got the Cougars started by firing home a shot off a Decker pass to make it 1-0 in the third minute of action. Senior Frank Barbera made it 2-0 for Chatham when he picked up a ground ball and scored with 7:48 left in the first.
The Cougars took a 3-1 lead on Berger's goal off a feed from Platek (1 goal, 2 assists) in the second quarter. But Montclair (1-4) scored with 1:01 left before the halftime break to make it 3-2.
COUGAR NOTES: Senior defender Frank Barbera scored the first goal of his career when he picked up a ground ball, raced to the goal and scored with his long stick to make it 2-0 for Chatham 4:12 into the first quarter ... The Montclair game was the first of five straight at home for Chatham, which meets Hunterdon Central, 4:30 p.m. Monday ... Chatham has won four of the last five meetings with Hunterdon Central, dating back to 2013. The Cougars won in 2018 (12-8) and 2016 (9-5) and lost in 2015 (11-7) ... Hunterdon Central stands 1-2 after Saturday's 13-6 setback to Pingry. Hunterdon Central lost to Westfield, 8-7, on April 22nd while Chatham lost to Westfield, 13-1, April 28 ... Chatham is looking forward to the return of senior defender Griffin Kology, who is still working his way back from an injury. Sophomore Brendan Boyd has stepped into Kology's spot ... The Cougars are also without sidelined senior middle Nick Jones, who had 17 goals and 11 assists during Chatham's 2019 North Jersey, Group 3 championship season.