SUMMIT, NJ - Like the temperature on the day, which saw the mercury exceed 90 degrees, the stakes are rising for the Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team. It's state tournament time, which means 'win or go home' every time they step on the field.
The game gravity will be ratcheted up a notch -- or three -- with each passing contest, but their first-round NJSIAA North, Group 3 tourney debut versus Wayne Valley was the antithesis of this dynamic.
The game, from the opening face-off through the final horn, carried all the intensity of Cartoon Network marathon, as the number-one seeded Hilltoppers led 10-0 after the opening 12 minutes and then went on autopilot en route to a 17-3 demolition of the Indians at Investors Bank Field.
Thirteen different players scored for Summit, with senior captain Corey McManus, Harry Kilkowski, Eamon McTernan and Gray Humphrey each netting two goals.
Finding the back of the net had been a bugaboo for The Maroon and White leading up to this encounter, with the Hilltoppers slotting just six goals total in consecutive defeats to Westfield and Ridgewood.
While, with proper respect paid, there is no comparison between Wayne Valley and those teams from an overall quality perspective, Summit was able to equal and pass their previous two games' total in less than two-thirds of a quarter's work on this wickedly warm, windy day.
McManus, Kilkowski, and McTernan each scored twice, and Chris Fowler, Jackson Tyler, Tom Fischetti, and Christian Greer all joined in with goals.
This presented a good news, bad news scenario. The good news, from a Summit perspective, is that they were scoring goals -- which has to restore some offensive confidence no matter who they are playing -- and were up 10-0.
The bad news? Well, if there truly was any, for the players it must've felt like they were playing on the surface of the Sun, the game was fully cooked, and there were still three whole quarters to go.
Those frames were played, of course, and featured literally every player on the Hilltopper roster.
Second-quarter goals were scored by Joe Persche -- eight seconds in off the stanza's opening face-off -- along with Humphrey and Scott Mauriello. The Indians scored off what looked to be a blown Summit defensive assignment and the Hilltoppers led at the break, 13-1.
Humphrey's second, the first-ever Varsity goal by Graham DeSanto, followed by the inaugural Varsity tally from Jack Browne made it 16-1 after three, and Max Hayford completed the natural 'Hat Trick of 'firsts' with his debut Varsity goal in the fourth.
Five Summit goalies -- Will Vitton, Pat Moriarty, Sam Kaplan, Julian Rupkey, and Tyler Hadley -- all saw action, with the quintet credited with a total of two saves.
Even though the Hilltoppers used their restrictor plate early and often in the game, the stats were exactly what the score would lead one to believe they would be -- which is to understatedly say they were conclusive.
Summit had asteroid-sized advantages in shots (34-6), ground balls (29-7) and face-offs (17-4).
The Hilltoppers, now 13-4 on the season, advance to face eighth-seeded West Morris -- an 11-5 winner over Morris Knolls -- May 20 at Investors Bank Field. The game is a re-match of an April 18 affair won by Summit, 11-1. Face-off is set for 12 p.m.