SUMMIT, NJ - On the warmest day of the year, the Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse team picked a bad time to deliver a tepid performance.
Ramapo's Jack Landel scored with 1:26 remaining in the second extra session to lift the Raiders to a 7-6, double overtime win over the Hilltoppers, eliminating Summit from NJSIAA Tournament play.
Landel's goal technically sealed Summit's fate, but the damage was done throughout a contest where Summit seemed flat, simply made too many mistakes, and allowed a quality opponent back in a game they themselves should have closed out.
Sign Up for E-News
Storm clouds in the Hilltoppers game that have recently been developing -- in the form of turnovers, mental errors, and failure to hold late leads -- all gathered over Investors Bank Field on crystalline, blue sky day with game-time temperatures that reached 90 degrees.
Ramapo took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Matt Karsian at the 9:05 mark after Summit's opening possession resulted in a turnover. The Hilltoppers leveled the score when Jack Johnson found Corey McManus at the 5:38 mark, only to fall behind again when Ramapo's Jack Griffin found the back of the net with 1:21 left in the opening frame.
Trailing 2-1 in the second quarter, Summit grabbed the lead when Chris Fowler -- who had three assists on the afternoon -- found McManus for his second of the game at 9:19, and then Johnson fired home a minute and a-half later.
Ramapo came right back, however, with two goals of their own off the sticks of Andrew Robbins and Griffin, and the Raiders led 4-3 with 3:43 remaining in the half. Fowler fed senior captain Andrew Chase
with 1:23 left in the second quarter, knotting things at four, and Summit -- fortunately, it must be said -- went to the break all even up.
Befitting the score line, all the vital stats -- shots, saves, face-offs and ground balls -- were about even as well, and spectators could sense it was going to be a taut, nervy final 24 minutes.
Senior captain Evan Kulpan's pass set up Chase to put Summit ahead in the only goal of the third quarter, scored at the 11:07 mark, but Ramapo's tightly-packed zone was giving the Hilltopper offense fits. Still, it looked like The Maroon & White defensive unit, anchored by senior captain Teddy Cranley in goal, had effectively shut down the Raiders, and that one more Summit goal might be enough.
That goal did come, as McManus completed his Hat Trick at what Summit faithful hoped was the lucky 7:11 mark but, just as they did against Westfield -- and nearly did against Ridgewood -- Summit allowed their opponents to score late-on and erase a two-goal lead.
Griffin's third goal of the game at the 5:23 mark made it a one goal game. The teams traded positions and battled, but the Hilltoppers allowed an unsettled fast-break in the final minute, and Robbins ripped a high shot that Cranley got a piece of but couldn't keep out of upper left-hand corner of the net.
The goal, with just 54 seconds left, tied the game, and sent the affair to overtime.
Both teams had the ball in the first extra period, and Summit directed a few shots on target, but they either sailed wide, or didn't truly trouble John Caponi in the Ramapo goal. In the final minute of the first OT, Cranley made two heroic stops, the second a 10-bell save on Robbins, and the game went to a second extra session.
As they did in the first OT, Summit won the face-off, called timeout, and set their offense. Operating behind the Ramapo goal, they turned the ball over, the Raiders taking possession and calling a timeout of their own.
After a shot hit the inside of the left post and stayed out, Ramapo won the ground ball, worked it around, and Landel fired a bounce shot which hopped up under the crossbar, setting off a wild Ramapo victory celebration, and ending Summit's season.
Any loss for a program with Summit's pedigree is tough to take, but -- while taking nothing away from a Ramapo team that, frankly, deserved to win on the day -- this loss, after being ahead by two goals, at home, to the number-four seed, will be a bitter pill to swallow.
Cranley had a strong game in defeat, making 16 saves. His opposite number Caponi was excellent as well, getting credited with 17 stops. Summit narrowly edged the ground ball (25-21), shots (31-22) and face-off (11-7) stats.
"I thought we had a lot of lacrosse left in us, but you have to come up big in these games, and we didn't today," said Summit Head Coach Jim Davidson. "All credit to Ramapo, they contested face-offs, hurt us on ground balls, and did a good job of breaking our momentum when he had it. We created opportunities, but we didn't shoot well and we didn't put enough of them in."
Summit, a team that most neutral observers felt over-achieved this season, perhaps under-achieved on this day, and ends their 2016 campaign with a record of 18-2.