SUMMIT, NJ - After surrendering a couple of goals in the opening seven minutes of action, the Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team took out the white board, made a few tweaks, and delivered a very Hilltoppers-like final 40-plus minutes of defensive play, shutting out Sparta and going on to a 10-2 triumph at Investors Bank Field.
Senior captain Corey McManus had four goals, and six other members of The Maroon and White found the back of the net as Summit improved to 5-1 on the season.
Will Vitton was again razor-sharp in goal for the Hilltoppers, making 10 saves and not allowing a goal over the final three quarters of the contest.
Junior Harry Kilkowski set up Chris Fowler at the 9:37 mark to give the Hilltoppers the lead, but Sparta answered when Jesse West scored just over a minute later.
Jack Johnson scored to put Summit back on top, but Mike Freeman took a pass from West to even things again with 4:24 remaining in the opening quarter.
The game was back-and-forth, and there was no indication that the Spartans would not score the rest of the way and that the Hilltoppers would soon notch the game-winning goal.
McManus scored a patented 'McManus goal' -- an semi-underhand, whip bounce shot, delivered while being knocked to the turf -- that skipped up past Sparta goalie Matt Dumbroff at the 2:08 mark, and Summit took a 3-2 lead after the opening 12 minutes,
Solid work by Sam Zanelli and Joe Persche -- aided by strong wing play -- on face-offs gave the Hilltoppers more of the ball in he second quarter. Summit's defensive adjustments also meant that, when Sparta did have the ball, they were not finding open looks and, in many cases, were dispossessed.
The Hilltoppers used their increased possession to pop in three goals in the frame to take a much more commanding 6-2 advantage to the break. Scores from Eamon McTernan, Tom Fischetti, and McManus' second put Summit in control.
Telling were the quarter's shot totals, as Summit replicated its 10-shot output from the first quarter, but Sparta -- which fired six shots at Vitton in the opening stanza -- was able to muster just one shot in the second 12 minutes.
The entire second half was a mirror image of the second quarter, as the Hilltoppers never looked threatened. Vitton, looking completely dialed in, was seeing everything directed his way, while Summit was dominating the ground ball battle and systematically adding to its goal total.
Kilkowski, from Fowler, and McManus' Hat Trick goal -- from Kilkowski -- made it 8-2, and the close game that was the first quarter seemed like it happened a week ago.
McManus' fourth, again from Kilkowski, and a tally from Jack Bonomo rounded out the scoring.
On the afternoon, Summit had a decided edge in shots (29-15) and ground balls (24-10), while narrowly shading the face-off battle (8-7).
"We messed up on our defensive rotation in the first quarter, so we fixed that and got more comfortable in that area," said Summit Head Coach Jim Davidson. "I thought our face-off guys did a good job, our wing play was solid and we did some positive things offensively."
Summit next travels to Princeton April 15. Face-off is set for 11 a.m.