RHS Boys Lacrosse: Group 2 State Champs!

RHS Boys Lacrosse: Group 2 State Champs!
Posted on 05/31/2017
RHS Boys LacrosseArticle by By Brian Deakyne | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

WEST LONG BRANCH – The game of wild swings in momentum, unrelenting offense and supreme ball movement had finally come to a screeching halt, it seemed.

Oliver Heins deposited a feed from Andrew Walsh to give Rumson-Fair Haven a three goal lead with 2:26 to play. It was over. Rumson-Fair Haven was on to the Tournament of Champions for just the second time in program history.

But Ramapo didn't see it that way.

Behind Andrew Robbins' five goals, Ramapo scored three times in the final 1:24 of regulation – including Matt Karsian's wild game-tying goal with 19 seconds left – to send the game to overtime where Jack Griffinfinished a feed from Ryan Sisti, handing Ramapo, the No. 7 team in the NJ.com Top 20, a wild 12-11 win over No. 9 Rumson-Fair Haven in the Group 2 final.

Ramapo will play in the first round of the Tournament of Champions on Saturday at Bridgewater-Raritan. 

"When we saw that clock and we knew that we were down by three, we couldn't quit," Robbins said. "We had to keep fighting. We had a great win and we knew this was our final goal. After last week, were coming in hot and we needed this win. Now, we're looking at the ToC. At the beginning of the year, we were joking around about the ToC, but now we're there. Nobody believed in us besides us. We're proving everybody wrong."

Trailing 11-8, Robbins fired in his fifth goal to draw Ramapo within two goals. Eight seconds later, Mike Graff finished on the doorstep on a feed from Griffin to make it a one goal game, 11-10.

Rumson-Fair Haven had a chance to seal the game on the other end of the field, but was unable to keep the ball in the box and turned it over, giving Ramapo life.

And with 19 seconds left, Karsian curled around the cage, dodged to the middle of the box and fired in the game-tying goal to send the game into overtime.

"It's all just a dream come true, honestly," Karsian, who will play his college lacrosse down the road at Monmouth University, said. "I'm so proud of my team, we worked so hard to get here. Coming up short in the state sectional last year, I can't thank my teammates enough for keeping us in it. From the starting guys to the last guy on the bench, we're in this together. We preached excellence here and I'm so proud of my team that we could get it done. It's a dream come true."

Both teams had a possession in overtime, but it was Griffin that converted for Ramapo on its second possession with 1:42 to play to send Ramapo home a winner. Rumson-Fair Haven appeared to get a turnover but was called for a loose-ball push, giving the possession back to Ramapo.

On the restart, Sisti, who meandered around the net all day but was kept out by Rumson-Fair Haven goalie Conor Deverin, moved his way to X, drove to the left post and found a streaking Griffin.

Lacrosse is a game of runs, and the Group 2 final was living proof of that. Bryan Hess, who was nearly unstoppable and led Rumson-Fair Haven with seven goals, scored three in the first 16 minutes of the game to stake Rumson-Fair Haven to a 4-0 lead.

But Ramapo regained its mojo in the second quarter and used a 7-0 run to take a 7-4 lead midway through the third quarter, seizing momentum and taking control of the game.

Or so it seemed.

Rumson-Fair Haven stole the momentum back with a pair of goals from Hess and a goal from Charlie Curran – the hero from Saturday's sectional final – to draw Rumson-Fair Haven even at 7-7 entering the fourth quarter.

And in that final quarter, it was Rumson-Fair Haven that went on the run that appeared to be the dagger.

After a quick score from Robbins to put Ramapo on top, Rumson-Fair Haven ripped off four goals – two from Hess, two from Heins – to take the 11-8 lead that Ramapo would eventually rally on.

"It's an incredible feeling, I can't even describe it right now," Ramapo goalie Johnny Caponi said. "They played a great game and (Bryan Hess), he had a hell of a game. It means a lot when we come together as a team. We have Logan Premtaj winning all those faceoffs. We had Mike Graff getting the ground balls. To rally back at the end when we're down three and bring it to overtime, it means the world to me to have teammates like this."

Logan Premtaj, who went toe-to-toe with Rumson's Alex Maldjian was dominant at the X for most of the game, allowing Ramapo to maintain possession for a good chunk of time during its 7-0 run.

"We just kept fighting," Robbins said. "We know it's a game of runs. Coach said to keep our composure because it's going to come. Our goals were going to come once we got one to build off our momentum. We had to keep going and keep fighting."

Ty Jaten and defenseman Jack Scordato each had one goal for Ramapo, while Blake Eischen contributed with two assists. Caponi finished with seven saves.

Ryan Tuorto had a first-quarter goal for Rumson-Fair Haven, while Colin Pavluk had a pair of assists. Alex Werner had one assist and Deverin, who was solid all season, finished with 11 saves.

Now, the season that appeared to be left for dead in Monmouth County is returning to the Tournament of Champions.

"We weren't ending our senior year here," Robbins said. "We wanted to get the taste of our ToC once in our four years. We heard the fans chanting 'warm those buses.' We knew we weren't warming the buses and we were coming right back. We weren't quitting and we got that final goal to make it 12-11 in OT."