SUMMIT, NJ - It felt like summer but Harry Kilkowski had a little extra spring in his step.
While the heat on the day -- and the overall feistiness of the encounter -- appeared to take a bit of a toll on virtually every player on the field, the senior captain seemed to have another gear all afternoon long, a hypothesis validated by his five-goal, three-assist performance.
Kilkowski's big day was a big part of the Summit High School Varsity Lacrosse Team's 12-5 victory over Sparta, a win that catapults the Maroon and White into the NJSIAA North Jersey, Group 2 Sectional Final on May 26, where they will face a familiar opponent -- Chatham.
Junior Greg Moller added two goals and two assists, senior Nick Thomson had a pair of tallies, and Senior captain Will Vitton had six saves in goal for the Hilltoppers, now 16-2 on the season and winners of nine in games in a row dating back to May 3.
Summit took care of business on day when the score could have been -- perhaps should have been -- tipped in even greater favor to the home team. That the Hilltoppers never really get on what felt like a downhill roll was due to a stew of factors: hot temps; tough, scrappy opponent; some self- and foe-induced hiccups in poetentially momentum-accelerating moments; and, finallly, the play of Spartans goalie Reed McCall.
McCall, a former Hilltopper, was credited with 18 saves and, while it would be fair comment to say that Summit could have finished its chances better on a few occasions, McCall made the stops or the score would have been much more lopsided.
After turning over Sparta on their -- and the the game's -- first possession, Summit took a 1-0 lead at the 8:50 mark when junior Skyler Schluter fed Moller for an in-close finish. Despite each team having the ball, neither squad could find the back of the net until the there were just 64 seconds left in opening frame when Kilkowski beat his defender from the behind the cage and curled out front to fire home.
The Hillltoppers took a 4-0 lead when they scored twice in 1:37 early in the second quarter. Thomson and Moller did the honors. It was 6-0, after junior Charlie Collins and Kilkowski found the back of the net, before Sparta finally broke through when Brendan Cina scored. Kilkowski's Hat Trick tally got that marker back, but Beck Gozdenovich scored with 26.5 seconds left before the break and the teams went to the locker room with Summit ahead, 7-2.
A Summit penalty just prior to the first-half's final horn gave Sparta a man advantage for one minute to start the third. The visitors didn't need the full 60 seconds to score and, just like that, the Hilltopper lead was down to four goals at 7-3.
Methodically, Summit responded as Kiilkowski fed Thomson to make it 8-3, and Schluter found senior Tom Fischetti with 3:25 left in the third and the home team was up 9-3. The Spartans got the last goal of the frame, and Summit led by a five-spot heading to the fourth, 9-4.
The home team finished strong, pumping home the first three goals of the fourth to take a 12-4 advantage. Two more markers from Kilkowski -- his fourth and fifth of the afternoon -- and a goal from freshman Luke Dinola heat-sealed the outcome.
Summit had a big edge in shots (36-13) and significant advantage in ground balls (38-22), while senior Joe Persche won 12 of 20 face-offs, aided by strong wing play from junior Deacon Donaldson, who won six 'GBs'.
"It was a scrappy game," said Summit Head Coach Jim Davidson. "We would do some good things, start to pull away and then Sparta would make a play." On a rematch with Chatham, a team that Summit surprisingly thumped 12-2 on April 11, Davidson said, "They (Chatham) are not same team we played earlier in the season. They are a talented, veteran team, and it will come down to fundamentals, which team executes better."
Summit will face Chatham in what promises to be another epic edition of the 'River Road Rivalry' on May 26 at Investors Bank Field. Face-off is set for 11 a.m.