UNION, NJ - On the soul crushing scale of 1 - 10 with a 10 being 'all hope is lost', this one clocked in at about a solid 7 or 8. Cruel, indeed, and even downright sinister when one realizes how important those digits were in the ultimate outcome.
After scoring their seventh goal of the game in the third quarter, the third-seeded Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team was leading its Tournament of Champions semifinal versus second-seeded Mountain Lakes by four goals and things were looking rosy. But things got thorny the rest of the way as the Maroon and White -- unbeknownst to all at that time -- would not score again in the game, and the Lakers would pop three late scores in the stanza to narrow the game to just a lone goal.
Massively more galling to Hilltopper Nation was the fact that 'Lakes would go on to score the only goal of the fourth quarter -- with just 43 seconds left in the game -- and then add further injury to, well, injury by netting the game-winner midway through the third overtime, defeating Summit 8-7 and ending the Hilltoppers' season in the process.
Luke Dinola had a Hat Trick and senior captain Jackson Tyler had two goals for Summit, which got a six-save performance from Tyler Hadley that included two big blunts in the final minutes of regulation that got the Hilltoppers to the finish line -- but not quite over it.
Spencer Goodbar and Trevor Glavin each had three goals for Mountain Lakes. Goodbar's third goal fo the game came with 2:36 left in the third overtime, a shot that Hadley got a chunk of but not enough to keep the ball from rolling literally inches over the goal line. Harrison Thompson stood tall in goal for the Lakers with 10 stops.
It was a game of streaks, with the longest surge belonging to the team that didn't emerge as the victor. Mountain Lakes took a 2-0 lead early via goals from Goodbar and Drew Brennfleck, before Summit halved the deficit on a goal by junior Pat White.
In the second quarter, senior captain Skyler Schluter fed Dinola and the game was tied at 56-seconds into the frame. Glavin put 'Lakes back in front but Tyler, set-up by senior classmate Gray Humphrey, leveled the contest at three with 2:40 remaining before the halftime break.
The third quarter was a 'Tale of Two Quarters' saga that couldn't have lived up to that description with any greater degree of authenticity if Dickens, himself, had scripted it. From a Summit perspective, 'The Best of Times' was the first nine minutes, as The 'Top was on fire, with junior Brendan Driscoll winning face-offs and his teammates converting to the tune of four straight tallies. Tyler, Dinola twice, and Schluter all hit twine and, with 3:35 remaining in the quarter, Summit led 7-3 and 'Lakes was big-time wobbling, having been outscored by the Hilltoppers 7-1 since early in the opening quarter.
'The Worst of Times'? Try the third quarter's final 85 seconds on for size.
Glavin scored with 1:25 left, but Summit still led 7-4. Then, however, the momentum of the game pivoted when Glavin and Goodbar scored in the final 29 seconds to narrow the Hilltopper lead to just a single goal, 7-6. Especially rough for Summit was the fact that Goodbar's goal arrived with just four ticks left on the clock.
The fourth saw the two prep titans trade possession several times but neither side could score. Summit thought they had the eighth goal when White let loose from distance, the ball apparently beating Thompson and then trampolining out. The Hilltoppers raised their arms, but none of the referees did. A potentially vital goal turned into the potentially vital goal that never was and the game continued.
The clock drained all the way down to under two minutes. A frantic 60 seconds followed with possession changing hands four times. Off an unsettled situation, 'Lakes found Tristan Plotts alone on the left post and he scored with 43 seconds left in regulation.
Tied 7-7, each team had several possessions in each of the two extra sessions and Summit had some solid looks, but Thompson was there. In the third bonus period Goodbar, lurking just off the left post, fired from a tight angle and -- by inches -- his shot was enough to decide the outcome between two teams that were likely -- overall -- about that far apart as well.
"i am very proud of our team, they did everything that we asked of them," said Summit Head Coach Jim Davidson. "Guys stepped up all year-long. We needed the ball to bounce our way tonight in one or two situations and it did not."
Summit concludes its 2019 season with three trophies -- the Union County, NJSIAA, North 2 Sectional, and NJSIAA Group 2 Championships -- and a record of 17-3.