WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ - There will be no June lacrosse for the Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team this season, that dream no longer a reality as the Hilltoppers fell to Moorestown 7-6 in the NJSIAA Group 3 Final at Shore Regional High School.
Sporting endeavors are, like many things in life, decided by the twists, turns, decisions, actions and outcomes of key moments.
In a lacrosse game, there are 2,880 seconds, each containing an image or moment which may or may not be overtly important or perhaps even vital.
Combined, these images and moments serve to form a picture book that, when rapidly flipped through, reveals the full story. They are all needed for the entire tale to be told but, undoubtedly, some are bigger than others and prove catalytic to one team's success or lack thereof.
And, on this day, the Quakers made and captured more of those moments than did the boys from the 07901, but not by much.
Truth is, there doesn't seemed to be much from a quality, commitment, and class standpoint between the two teams and programs. Just as there wasn't much between them when they met earlier in the season -- a 3-2 Summit win on April 26 -- but the difference between the tempo of the two contests was as stark as the diametrically-opposed meteorological conditions surrounding this game -- blue skies surrounded by flashes of lighting in the distance.
The game in April was low-scoring and deliberate, with long stretches of play absent of real scoring chances. This tilt was kinetic from the get-go, literally, and both squads had myriad quality looks on goal. On this night, the protagonists for Moorestown were goalie Liam Peck, midfielder Frank Labetti and defender Judah Hicks, whose sum efforts delivered many of the moments that won the day.
Peck made 15 saves, several of the 10-bell variety, while Labetti was a 'beast' at the face-off 'X' and scored a massive goal that made it 7-5 with just 26 seconds left in the third quarter. Hicks was a ground ball machine, scooping up key 50-50 balls and winning Moorestown vital possession.
Six different Hilltoppers scored, and goalie Will Vitton was strong between the pipes with seven saves.
Moorestown only scored two goals all game in the teams' previous meeting and one of those came inside the contest's final two minutes. Twenty-six seconds into the Group 3 Final, they equaled that output.
Labetti won the opening face-off clean, shot down the center of the field, and fed Ben Cantwell who scored. Off the ensuring face-off, the ball found Will Corbi, who quickly found Quinn Willis and it was 2-0.
Rocked, Summit was able to settle things down and get some possession. At the 7:43 mark, they get one back as Senior captain Corey McManus whipped in a low drive from the right side, assisted by Chris Fowler.
Three minutes later, Fowler followed that up by curling out from behind the right side of the goal and ripping a shot past Peck and the game was tied.
Then, at the 1:27 mark, Nick Thomson coaxed a low shot from the left side to sneak in and, after getting smacked early, The Maroon and White had the lead at 3-2.
Corbi and Willis reprised their scoring connection again, however, 10 seconds after Thomson's goal and the frenzied quarter ended level, 3-3.
The teams traded four goals in a second quarter that was reminiscent of the opening 12 minutes but slightly less hyper. Cantwell and Corbi goals from Moorestown were offset by Summit goals by Eamon McTernan and Jack Johnson.
Tied at five at the break, a brand new Group Final -- this one just two quarters in duration -- awaited both teams. Halftime stats showed the Hilltoppers winning the shot metric (14-8) but significantly trailing in the face-off department (2-10).
Cantwell notched his Hat Trick goal less than two minutes into the third quarter, however Summit may have actually edged the quarter in terms of overall play but could not find a way to beat Peck.
Trailing 6-5, the game's gravity began to increase proportionately with the eroding clock, and each missed opportunity, blunted shot, turnover, and ground ball took on added weight.
The next goal would be seismic, and Labetti got it with 26 seconds left in the frame. Still, Summit was creating chances, but was faced with a two-goal deficit as the fourth quarter began.
A couple of more saves from Peck and some ample Quaker possession meant that Summit had to begin to chase the game. Vitton made some large stops of his own to keep the Hilltoppers in it, but Summit could not break through until Jameson Waldron scored with only 1.3 seconds remaining.
With too little time left on the clock to win the ball and attempt a shot, the ensuring face-off proved ceremonial.
Final stats showed Summit ahead in shots (29-18) and ground balls (29-23) while falling short in face-offs (3-11).
"Early in the game, they got on us quickly and we couldn't get in our defensive sets, but we responded to get back into it and then had some great chances but were unable to score," said Summit Head Coach Jim Davidson. "We battled, but their goalie came up huge. He stands tall and takes up a lot of the goal."
Summit ends the season with a mark of 16-5 and a Group 3 North Sectional Championship.