By Warren Rappleyea
In an almost expected right of spring, both Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School’s boys and girls lacrosse teams won their respective ends of the Shore Conference Tournament.
The Bulldogs’ boys — the top seed — squared off against No. 2-seed Manasquan High School in the finale May 16. In a seesaw battle, Rumson-Fair Haven entered the final quarter ahead, 4-3, as Robbie Garavente led the way with three goals. Colin Pavluk seemingly gave the host team an insurance goal, but the Warriors battled back to knot things up with two successive markers.
With just over four minutes remaining, Charlie Curran netted what proved to be the game-winner. With time winding down and desperate to counter, Manasquan pulled its goalie to press the attack. The Bulldogs took advantage, however, and empty-net goals by Alex Werner and Peter Lucas sealed the deal, as Rumson-Fair Haven won the Shore Conference Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons.
“We have a tough non-conference schedule, and the main reason for that is so we’ll be ready for the big games,” Bulldogs coach Andy Eastwood said. “We work all season to prepare for the tournaments, and it shows.”
All three of Rumson-Fair Haven’s losses have come against non-conference foes: James Caldwell High School (7-6), St. Augustine Preparatory School (6-5) and Bergen Catholic High School (8-6).
After plowing through 16th-seeded Point Pleasant Borough High School, 16-2, in the opening round and eighth-seeded Shore Regional High School, 15-2, in the quarterfinals, Rumson-Fair Haven was tested by Christian Brothers Academy in the semifinals. Eastwood’s team prevailed, 6-4, as Garavente pumped home three goals and Henry Sillen added two more tallies.
The Bulldogs are coming off an 11-0 success against Ocean City High School, the seventh seed, in the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group II quarterfinals May 21. Rumson-Fair Haven, the second seed, dominated Barnegat High School, 13-0, in a first-round win.
Garavente netted his team-leading 50th goal of the season in the Ocean City match. He also leads the team with 30 assists. Sillen has 33 goals, while Bryan Hess has 24 tallies to go with 10 assists. Griffin Schultz has added 19 goals and 14 assists, and Curran has 18 goals to his credit.
Rumson-Fair Haven was set to meet third-seeded Seneca High School in the semifinals May 25. A victory could set up another meeting with Manasquan, the top seed, which was set to play fifth-seeded Hopewell Valley Central High School May 25. The championship match is scheduled for May 28.
Rumson-Fair Haven’s girls, meanwhile, won the Shore Conference Tournament crown for the fourth year in a row with a convincing 13-5 defeat of Shore Regional May 16. The top-seeded Bulldogs took a 6-3 lead into the half and gradually pulled away after the break.
Brittany Bruno and Kyra Weiner scored three goals apiece to lead the way, and Morgan Steinhacker added a pair of goals and an assist. In its four conference tournament games, Rumson-Fair Haven outscored its opponents, 66-9, with Weiner netting a hat trick in each match.
Rumson-Fair Haven scored semifinals win, 12-1, against fourth-seeded Manasquan May 13. In the Bulldogs’ quarterfinal victory, 15-2, over eighth-seeded Toms River High School North, Weiner, Bruno, Steinhacker and Maggie Jennings each scored three times. Jennings led the way with four goals in an opening-round win over Jackson Memorial High School, 16-1, May 9.
Since an opening-day loss to Moorestown High School, 10-5, Rumson-Fair Haven has been nothing short of dominant and have outscored opponents by a count of 288-160.
That continued in the top-seeded Bulldogs’ 18-1 NJSIAA South Jersey, Group II, opening-round win over Paul VI High School, the 15th seed. Jennings scored three times to boost her total to 28 goals on the season. Bruno’s two goals and three assists put her at 52 goals and 17 assists on the year.
Weiner continued her strong play with a pair of goals, giving her 39 tallies for the year to go with 26 assists. Elizabeth Scarrone also had two goals and has 31 goals and 30 assists on the season.
The Bulldogs were scheduled to meet ninth-seeded Delran High School in a quarterfinals matchup May 23. The semifinals are set for May 26.