NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Up until last year, the Pioneer boys’ lacrosse team had never made past the section quarterfinal round. On Tuesday, New Providence advanced to their second straight state semifinal, defeating Barnegat, 18-3, at Lieder Field in the South Jersey, Group 1 quarterfinal.
Senior Jack Harvey led the way with seven goals and seven assists, good enough for his 400th career point, while juniors Quinn Killeen and Johnny Shahpazian flex their muscles with four and three tallies themselves.
“We came out strong,” Shahpazian said. “We knew it was going to be a good game. We knew that Barnegat was going to be a good offensive team. The last two weeks we’ve been having some good practices. We’re really putting in a lot of work. We’re focused for the playoffs and we all just came to play today.”
After allowing a goal in the opening 75 seconds of the game, the Pioneers dominated the next 46 minutes, outdueling the Bengals in every aspect of the competition. Four different New Providence attackers answered the call during the opening quarter. Connor Malone, Steve Anderson, Killeen and Harvey all scored in the first quarter to give New Providence a four-goal lead.
In the second, Harvey scored two more times, sandwiched around tallies from Shahpazian and Tyler Lawton, putting the Pioneers on top 8-1 at the break.
“Right now, we’re clicking offensively,” head coach Vinny Carangelo said. “We’re playing team lacrosse. We’re playing system lacrosse. We’re breaking well. We’re drawing and moving. Its good stuff, when that happens and we play together and we connect, I think we’re pretty dangerous.”
Following a Barnegat goal in the opening minute of the third quarter, New Providence rattled off five straight goals to blow the game wide open. Killeen scored three times during the stretch, setting up the third Pioneer to record a hat trick in the game.
For Killeen, it his fifth three-goal performance in the Pioneers’ last six games.
“We just came out firing,” Killeen said. “It was serious business. We’re hungry and we really want to win. We have to take each step as seriously as possible.”
New Providence rifled 27 shots on goal, converting on 18 to punch their ticket to the state semifinal, while the combined efforts of Garrett Pope and Patrick Trezza stopped 12 of the 15 shots they faced.
With the victory, the Pioneers move on to Thursday’s South Jersey, Group 1 semifinal where they get a rematch with conference-foe Bernards, this time at Lieder Field.
Earlier this season, Bernards snapped New Providence’s undefeated start to the season with a 9-8 victory.
Prior to knowing their opponent, the Pioneers hoped it would be Bernards so they have a chance to redeem themselves from their last meeting.
“I think we had it good the last time we played them, it was more finishing,” Harvey said. “I remember we couldn't finish up close a bunch. I think our defense has come a long way. We’ll be able to take care of them if we play them again.”