SUMMIT, NJ - When a team in any sport is in the midst of an incredible winning streak, the standard line from coaches is that "we don't really ever talk about it" and most of the time, the line sounds forced, almost unbelievable. To listen to Summit head coach Jim Davidson tell it, his team rarely talks about their monumental winning streak, a run of victories that reached 36 consecutive triumphs on Wednesday afternoon after Summit made quick work of the visiting Ridgewood Maroons, 10-3. While most coaches and their players - especially at the high school level - like to ride the wave of accolades that come with big winning streaks, it's easy to see that there is no attachment to the current run on the Summit sideline, from any of the players and especially, from Davidson. The Hilltoppers are so well-coached, so focused on the moment, that they honestly only care about the game at hand and, after that game has been decided, the next opponent on the schedule.
"Everybody keeps asking about [the streak] and to be perfectly honest with you, we don't even really talk about it or think much about it. I know it sounds like we should, but we really don't. [We play] West Essex next and we have to worry about them," Davidson said after the game.
Against Ridgewood, several familiar themes played out yet again as Summit dominated every statistical category. The Hilltoppers yet again ran their offense with precision and efficiency. The defense - aside from a couple of momentary lapses in the first half - was suffocating, just as it has been all season. All-American goaltender Brian Feeney was rarely tested in net because the defense in front of him was nearly impenetrable. Ryan Troy, Bobby Lawrence and Company forced Ridgewood into several bad turnovers when the Maroons tried to run their offense. All of this and the Hilltoppers blew Ridgewood away in shots on goal, 40-4. The formula - tested, tried and true - worked perfectly yet again and led Summit to another "easy" win on their home turf at MetroHomes Field.
"I thought we did well, we played solid," Davidson said. "We kind of had a nice run early which is important. We need to get out and get ahead a little bit. In the third quarter I thought we had some good shots, we just didn't bury them. Defensively we started out a little slow, but you know, we're playing [last] Saturday, we [played] on Monday and we're back out here today so there is no rest. [Ridgewood] is a good club and today I thought we did a good job of just controlling the game."
Marcel Godino opened the game's scoring with an unassisted goal at the 5:03 mark of the first period. It was Godino's team-leading 29th goal of the season. Timmy Yager and Johnny Scioscia followed Godino's goal with unassisted tallies of their own, but Ridgewood scored with 57 seconds left in the first when Maroons' attacker Matt Zacoroli beat Feeney to cut the lead to 3-1. Just when it seemed that Ridgewood had generated a bit of momentum before the end of a quarter that Summit had literally dominated up to that point, Godino deflated the Maroons' balloon when he took a nifty feed from Scioscia and whistled a shot past Ridgewood goaltender Alex Branton with just six seconds left in the opening frame. It was the type of "answer" goal that Summit has produced all season and Godino himself has become particularly adept at scoring such confidence-busting markers.
The second quarter began just where the first left off when Danny Feeney whipped a shot past Branton for a goal only 49 seconds into the period. Feeney's goal was unassisted and pushed the Hilltoppers' lead to 5-1. Yet this time, it was Ridgewood's turn to respond and the Maroons did just that when Garrett Clarke took a pass from Zacoroli and beat Feeney to make the score 5-2. Summit's defense then went into shut-down mode and did not allow another goal until midway through the fourth quarter when the game was firmly in hand. Nolan Prinzen and Sonny Round - who has developed a penchant for scoring acrobatic, highlight-reel goals of late - each added an unassisted tally for the Hilltoppers to close out the first half scoring and give Summit a comfortable five-goal lead at the half, 7-2.
A cutting Mike Ford got the scoring underway in the second half when he took a pass from Scioscia who was stationed behind the Ridgewood net and proceeded to beat Branton in close to make the score 8-2 in favor of the Hilltoppers. Jake Hall pushed the lead to seven goals when he hauled in a pass from Ford and whipped a low, blistering shot past Branton with 3:31 left in the third. Yet it was the defense that truly owned the decisive third period. Numerous times the Hilltoppers' defensemen stifled the oncoming Ridgewood attack and the pressure was just too much for the Maroons as they continually turned the ball over with bad passes, self-inflicted wounds that cost them any chance at getting back into the game. The Hilltoppers did not even allow a shot on net in the third period.
"I think it's just riding," Davidson said. "For them to get the ball out of the defensive end to their offensive end, I think we did a good job of making a little hectic for them to get the ball into the box. They didn't get it in many times and I think that had a lot to do with Ryan Troy, our middies and those guys just put constant pressure on."
Scioscia scored Summit's final goal on a pretty play where the All-American attacker smoothly corralled a hard pass, deked his defender and shot all in one motion. Scioscia easily beat a stunned Branton on the play as the Ridgewood goalie was clearly caught off-guard by the fluid and lightning-quick moves of one of Summit's best players. The goal gave Scioscia a four point afternoon - two goals, two assists - and although it was only his 13th goal of the season, Scioscia took over the team scoring lead on the day with his 23rd and 24th assists even though he missed four games earlier in the season with a badly sprained ankle. Scioscia, who will suit up in South Bend, Indiana next season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, now has 37 points on the year.
Although his team is clearly playing its best lacrosse of the season over the past two weeks, Davidson was yet again reluctant to address a winning streak that dates back to early April of 2009. Instead, the coach pointed out the obvious that a loss, no matter when it comes or to whom it comes, is a costly thing at this point of the season.
"You know, if you lose in the county tournament, you're done and if you lose in the state tournament, you're done so we don't really think about [the streak] that much," Davidson said. "This win [over Ridgewood] helps us keep our home-field advantage going into the playoffs. Hopefully we can do the same thing because Friday's game counts. It'll be a big game Friday."