SUMMIT, NJ - A glance back at the recent chapters of the Summit versus Westfield Boys Lacrosse rivalry shows a plethora of close encounters -- six games have been decided by one-goal over the past five seasons -- with games between the two foes almost universally noted for a low-scoring, defense-first, yield-no-ground vibe.
In fact, the teams have played each other six times since 2015 and the total goal differential over the sextet of contests is plus-2 in favor of the Hilltoppers. A regular-season match-up in 2016 saw the apex of goal output by one team -- eight -- over that same three-year span, a mark also held by Summit.
So, when the teams lined up against each other for the first time -- and likely not to be the last occasion -- in 2018, it was expected that the grinder genre would continue and that goals would be at a premium.
While that assumption was empirically sound, Summit had other plans and slingshotted out of the gate to start the game, firing home six first-quarter goals and never looking back, running away with a 15-5 win over the Blue Devils at Investors Bank Field.
Senior captain Harry Kilkowski scored six goals, and classmate Nick Thomson had a Hat Trick, senior Joe Persche dominated the face-off battle, and goalie Will Vitton made nine saves in goal to pace Summit, who improved their season mark to a pristine 7-0.
Matthew Rittendale had three goals and Devon McLean scored a pair for the Blue Devils.
While virtually no game -- especially one against an opponent like Westfield -- is ever really won in the first quarter, the Hilltoppers' opening 12-minute performance came pretty close to sealing the deal on its own merits.
While their six goals without an answer were the ultimate metric, it was the numerics behind the score that told how the massive advantage was built. Summit had 15 shots at target to zero for Westfield. The Hilltoppers collected 16 ground balls in a single quarter, and Persche was 6 of 7 in face-offs.
Kilkowski had four of the six goals in the quarter, one of which was a man-up tally, with two pairs of his goals each bracketing markers from junior Skyler Schluter and Thompson.
Junior Jackson Tyler scored just over a minute into the second quarter and it was 7-0, before Westfield finally managed a shot on target and, then, a goal. Leading 8-2 in the final minutes of the stanza, Summit closed the half with a flourish, scoring two goals in the final 1:56 through Kilkowski and Thomson.
Thomson's goal -- coming with just six-tenths of second left in the quarter and on Summit's 25th shot of the half -- arrived on the business end of a tic-tac-toe passing play from Tyler-Eamon McTernan-Thomson and sent the home fans and home team bench into a frenzy.
The Blue Devils began the second half strong and scored the first two goals, but still trailed 10-4. The Hilltoppers snuffed out any thought of a comeback by the visitors when juniors Greg Moller and Schluter scored 90 seconds apart.
The final frame saw Kilkowski's sixth, which came with Summit a man-up, along with goals from McTernan and freshman Luke Dinola, making it seven Hilltoppers who found the back of the net on a day that was proportionately both atypical for the rivalry and embraced by Hilltopper Nation.
"I thought we played hard and, for most of the game, made smart decisions with the ball," said Summit Head Coach Jim Davidson. "Westfield made a strong push in the third quarter, but we were able to answer with some key face-off wins from Joe Persche which led to some quality possessions."
Summit stays home to next take on perennial powerhouse Delbarton April 24. The Green Wave will be smarting, as they were upset 8-6 at Chatham. Face-off at Investors Bank Field is set for 4 p.m.