NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — The Livingston boys lacrosse team snagged its fifth consecutive win on Thursday following a 7-2 victory over the West Essex Knights in North Caldwell.
“I thought maybe we gave away the first two [games] and that might have motivated us to win the next five,” said Livingston head coach Brad Dzama. “I don’t know, but we’re happy where we’re at so far.”
Livingston and West Essex played an even first quarter, feeling each other out. Goals by Livingston’s Brian Russo and West Essex’s Sam Adams left the contest in anyone’s hands. Shortly thereafter, Luke Nardone gave Livingston back the lead with 3:47 to go in the first.
The game ultimately turned in the Lancers’ favor in the second quarter, however, as Livingston tacked on two more goals. Jason Scher and Ryan Valese’s goals, which came just two minutes and 12 seconds apart, gave Livingston a comfortable lead heading into the half.
“We kind of played a simple-offensive look in the first quarter to see what they were scheming and made some simple adjustments in the second quarter and started scoring,” said Dzama.
Scoring has not been an issue for Scher over the past few games. He notched two more goals in the game against West Essex to give him 17 points in his last three games.
“[Scher] is just a fabulous player,” said Dzama. “He’s so smart, he’s so calm, he’s so talented—in my 20 years he’s one of the best players I’ve coached.”
For The Knights, the second quarter has been a struggle throughout the season. Ultimately, the holes that they have dug themselves in the period have cost them numerous games in the still relatively young season.
“The second quarter has pretty consistently been our Achilles heel,” said West Essex head coach Justin Schwindel.
Livingston relied on its key scorers to pull away in the second half against West Essex. Russo, scoring again in the third and fourth quarters, has produced 10 points in his last three games for the Lancers.
“[Russo] has to be nice and patient and he was patient all game [today], he’s such a team offensive player the last bunch of games I think he had three goals,” said Dzama. “I think he only took four shots and we scored seven. Everybody was playing and they were so worried about Russo and the rest of the team got them. He’s so unselfish, and that’s what makes us better.”
West Essex’s loss to Livingston drops the squad to a tough 0-9 on the season. The Knights will go back to the drawing board and look to get the winning formula with a game against a tough Madison squad on Tuesday.
“We’re going to give them a little rest, but it’s back at it on Tuesday against Madison and I’m a firm believer while we look at our scores, we’re right in it with most teams,” said Schwindel. “Madison is a talented team, but it’s one we could get out there and win if we piece things together.”
Livingston’s victory brings the Lancers to 5-2 on the season. They will look to continue their winning streak as they take on MKA on Tuesday.
“I think the secret sauce for any team, regardless of sport, is your leadership,” said Dzama. “You want to have the best leaders you can get and work with them on how to be leaders and it’s a great senior class overall…the seniors lead, the underclassmen follow. They’re over there in the huddle enjoying themselves. They love playing with each other, they love practicing, they love the locker room and that helps keep it going.”