SUMMIT, NJ — Like two arm wrestlers locked in a Titanic struggle, putting their all into it but finding themselves stalemated, the Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team and Westfield locked up in the Union County Tournament Final.
It did not take a lacrosse scholar to figure out in advance that the contest would be a close, hard fought, defensive-dominated encounter. After all, in their previous meeting on April 25, the Blue Devils outlasted the Hilltoppers 6-5, in a game that showed there wasn't much between the teams.
That turned out to be an understatement.
Fifty-four minutes of lacrosse — four quarters and two overtime periods — were not enough to determine a winner at AL Johnson High School but, at 3:37 of the third OT, Westfield's James Bohlinger curled around the left side of the crease and slipped the ball past Summit goalie Jay Winchell, giving the Blue Devils a 4-3 win and the Union County Title.
Westfield broke out to a 2-0 first quarter lead on goals by Brandon Leuthold and Patrick Aslanian, but Summit cut the lead in half when Corey McManus scored a man-up goal at the 4:19 mark.
The game was then tied at two when the Hilltoppers Evan Kulpan found the back of the net with just 30.6 seconds remaining in the opening frame.
Summit took a 3-2 lead to the halftime break, waiting until — literally — the last second of the second quarter to score. Westfield switched off a re-start with 2.2 seconds left, and John Cordrey found Kulpan to with .2 seconds left on the clock.
Westfield tied the game 3-3 when Luke Prybylski bounced a low shot past Winchell with 2:18 left in the third quarter. Both teams had their chances during the quarter, and throughout the final frame as well, but each was playing aggressive, punishing defense and, when there was a shot on target, Winchell and Westfield's Toby Burgdorf were there to make the stops.
Winchell was credited with 10 saves, many of the spectacular variety, while Burgdorf was impenetrable the entire second half and overtimes, and ended up with eight saves.
In each of the first two overtime sessions, Westfield won the face-off, but could not score, and Summit had possessions, but could not break through. Off the face-off in the third OT, the Blue Devils gained possession just long enough to get a time-out call, and Bohlinger scored off the ensuing re-start.
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