CHATHAM, NJ - Senior Austin Pierce wasn't around for the fourth quarter of Chatham's boys lacrosse victory over St. Joseph's of Montvale Friday because he was in the hospital getting stitches for a cut under his chin.
Less than 24 hours later, Pierce was patched up and ready to go on Saturday, scoring twice in the first period as Chatham won its third in a row, 9-3 over New Providence at Cougar Field.
Pierce's first goal was a highlight-reel play as he ran past the net, turned and fired a hard-angle shot that banged in off the far pipe.
"I ran out of real estate, turned to my right and shot," Pierce said. "I didn't see it go in, but when I heard it hit the post, I was pretty excited."
Austin Pierce talks about his first goal of the game and his trip to the hospital on Friday
Senior middle Greg Kurlak made it 2-0 with a downhill run and finish before Pierce cut to the net and scored off Mac Bredahl's feed from behind the net for a 3-0 lead 8:33 into the first period.
But Chatham would be held scoreless for the rest of the half, partly because of New Providence goalie Garrett Pope (24 saves overall) and some not-so-great shooting. It was the third straight game in which the opposing goalie racked up more than 20 saves vs. the Cougars.
"We had a ton of quality shots and we have to bury them," Chatham coach Tony Calandra said. "It's a combination. Their goalies have played well and we've shot the ball at them. We're looking for the white part of the net. I'd say there were eight or nine times that we shot the ball right at the goalie's feet. We're looking for a high bounce shot or the white of the goal and be able to put it into the net."
Chatham scored in transition to make it 4-0 just 1:23 Into the third period. Cougar goalie Matt Nestler made a save and quickly threw a lead pass to defender Kyle Kology, who caught the ball over his head while sprinting up field. Kology threw on the run to Bredahl, who buried his shot.
Quinn Killeen scored to break up the shutout bid for New Providence (1-1) before Bredahl came from behind the net to throw in a high shot off a pass from Thomas Berger. Pierce's ground ball and pass helped set up the goal that made it 5-1.
Berger cut in to score off a feed from Bredahl for a 6-1 advantage 4:07 into the fourth. Bredahl has been a catalyst with his play from behind the net for Chatham.
"He's a very talented player," Calandra said. "He plays with his head up, he's very shifty. Definitely a very good player."
Ryan Chase and Matt Coleman each produced a goal to boost the lead to 8-1 before the Pioneers got consecutive goals from Johnny Shahpazian and Michael Palmieri to cut the deficit to 8-3.
Chatham closed out the scoring when Justin Hayes won the faceoff, carried on net and fed Evan Gavalakis for the goal.
Up next, the Pioneers face Gov. Livingston at Snyder Avenue Park in Berkeley Heights under the lights at 7 p.m.