SUMMIT, NJ – Attack Nick Kilkowski led the Summit Hilltoppers with four goals and the defense allowed no scores from Mendham in the second half after the score was knotted up a three at halftime. They went on to win by a score of 8-3 on Friday afternoon at Metro Homes Field in Summit to improve to 11-0 on the year.
Summit, ranked two in the Star Ledger Top Twenty, has been perfect thus far midway through the season, but their ten game winning streak looked to be in jeopardy when they trailed by a goal on two separate occasions in the first quarter.
They bounced back in a big way in the second half by scoring two goals in the third quarter and three more in the fourth as they appeared to wear out a Mendham team that had all the momentum at the start of the contest.
“We just came out a lot harder. They’re a good team. They had a great defense. I think we just told our offense to relax, move the ball and shoot the ball hard at the net,” Summit defenseman Will Weber said.
“It was a tough game. That’s all I can really say. We’re just happy that we got a win,” Kilkowski added.
Goaltender Tyler Avallone was the standout star for Mendham through the first two quarter as he made 10 saves in the first half; however Kilkowski and company appeared to figure him out in the second half.
The senior who leads his team in goals this season got things started for the home team just 2:31 into the third quarter when he blasted in a shot from the right slot past Avallone. He would score one more time off a nice feed from teammate Austin Carbone as Summit held a 5-3 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
“I thought we were just thinking about it too much to be honest. We were all just getting in each other’s heads saying ‘shoot it here, shoot it there’ when in reality we just needed to not just think about it and just rip it in,” Kilkowski commented about shooting on Avallone in the second half.
The Summit defense stood tall in the second half as they did not allow Mendham to break through and create any quality chances on Alex Salazar’s cage. They gave up only five shots on goal through the third and fourth quarter.
A big reason for that is something that usually leads to wins in a lacrosse game; possession. Summit won four of six draws in the second half while forcing six Mendham turnovers that allowed the Union County team to widen their lead in the fourth quarter.
On the man advantage, midfielder Tommy Celmer got on the board when he scored from the left slot to make the score 6-3 with 6:18 left in the game.
Harry McCreary of Summit scored the final two goals of the game when Avallone and his defenders were pressing out hard on the Summit sticks in an attempt to gain possessions. He scored with 4:42 remaining and then 1:27 later to give his team a five goal lead.
Mendham gave Summit all they could handle in the first half. They scored 4:12 into the game when Tim LaBeau scored on the team’s first shot on Salazer’s cage.
Kilkowski would answer right back with a score in front off of Carbone’s pass, but Mendham would answer right back just over a minute later to take a 2-1 lead.
Summit would gain the lead a few minutes later only to have Mendham tie the game with 1:41 left until halftime.
“We’ve faced kind of a lot of adversity before. That game, we came out kind of slow,” Weber told the Alternative Press. “We just rallied our guys together; told them to focus… and stick to do what we do best which is run our offense, possess the ball and get ground balls” he added.
That is exactly what Summit was able to do in the second half and is perhaps the biggest reason why they have not lost yet this year and are considered by many to be the best team in the state.
They face a big challenge next when they take on the third ranked Chatham Cougars on Monday, April 30 at 4 p.m. at Metro Homes Field. Summit defeated Chatham twice last year, including a 6-5 nail biter in the Group 2 Public Finals last spring that took five overtimes to decide.
Both Kilkowski and Weber maintain that they are focusing on that game and not thinking about going undefeated for the second time in three seasons.
“One practice at a time; one game at a time,” Kilkowski commented.