CLARK, NJ - It was ragged and, at times, downright sloppy, but the Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team used a six-goal, second-half surge to put away a stubborn Scotch Plains-Fanwood (SP-F) team, 8-2, and move on to the Union County Tournament (UCT) Final.
There, the Hilltoppers will face Westfield, a team they defeated exactly three weeks back, but also an opponent that took away their UCT crown one year ago.
Junior attack Chris Fowler had two goals and an assist as the Maroon & White broke open a game tied at the half, and improved to 14-0 on the season.
In a first half marked by scrappy defense and numerous turnovers by both teams, the Hilltoppers and the Raiders split four goals. Fowler curled from behind the goal to the right edge of the crease and finished, just as he was getting leveled, to put Summit up 1-0 at the 5:59 mark of the opening quarter. Scott Nizolak, assisted by Jack Brady, answered for SP-F at the 1:21 mark and the quarter ended 1-1.
Senior captain Andrew Chase's goal at 11:17 of the second quarter put the Hilltoppers ahead once more, but Nizolak found Brady and things were again knotted with 3:45 left before halftime. The teams went to the break tied. 2-2.
After the erratic first half, Summit regrouped to own the third quarter, putting five goals past SP-F goalie Chris Duffy. Fowler scored from the doorstep, assisted by Corey McManus, at 8:18, and then -- with the Hilltoppers a man up, Jack Johnson, off a nice skip pass from Chase, ripped a laser top right corner to raise the lead to 4-2 at 5:26.
Less than a minute later, senior captain Xavier McCormick broke down the middle and saw Duffy get a piece of his high shot, but not enough to keep it from sailing into the net. The Hilltoppers led 5-2, and soon it was a four-goal lead when fellow senior captain Evan Kulpan took a feed from McManus.
The finishing touch on a dominant 12 minutes came when defender Alex Dadourian picked up a ground ball and went coast-to-coast and finished with just 39.5 seconds remaining in the frame. Summit led 7-2 and had a firm control on the outcome.
McManus, from Fowler, concluded the scoring at the 10:32 mark of the fourth. The Hilltoppers directed 39 attempts on target to the Raiders 20, but lost the ground ball battle 27-18. Face-offs were even at 7-7. Teddy Cranley made 12 saves, including several big stops at key times, in goal for Summit, while Duffy was credited with 13 saves for SP-F.
Summit will face Westfield, a 9-5 winner over New Providence in the other semifinal, May 7 at AL Johnson High School. Face-off is set for 7:30 p.m., and will be preceded by the UCT Girls Final that sees Summit take on Oak Knoll at 5 p.m.
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