By Warren Rappleyea
Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School’s boys’ lacrosse team has won 10 straight matches, and the Bulldogs’ high tempo of play is making life difficult for its opponents.
Since dropping a 16-5 decision to Florida-based national power IMG Academy, Rumson-Fair Haven has been nothing short of dominant. The toughest match came against Kinnelon High School April 20, when the Bulldogs found themselves on the short end of a 3-2 score at halftime. A strong second half propelled Rumson-Fair Haven to an 8-4 win, as Charlie Curran and Alex Werner scored two goals apiece.
First-year coach Marc Moreau credited his team’s overall physical conditioning and athleticism for both the victory against Kinnelon and his team’s overall success.
“The speed at which we play is difficult for our opponents to handle because we’re deep and we can keep up the pace for the entire game,” Moreau said. “That enables us to wear opponents out. That’s what happened against Kinnelon, which is a strong team. We went on a 6-0 run starting in the third quarter, and they couldn’t recover.”
Moreau credits Rob Orrock, Rumson-Fair Haven’s strength and conditioning coach, with getting the Bulldogs in top physical condition.
“A lot of our guys play more than one sport, and Rob has gotten them to buy-in to the program,” Moreau said. “We have well-rounded, well-conditioned athletes, and that makes a huge difference.”
It also helps that the Bulldogs get goals in bunches. Through 10 games, Rumson-Fair Haven has scored 144 times while allowing only 41 goals against. Attackman Colin Pavluk tops the squad with 23 goals to go along with three assists. Werner has 10 goals and 15 assists, while Curran has produced 14 goals and 10 assists to give Moreau a balanced front line.
The Bulldogs have even more weapons in the middle with veterans Bryan Hess, Oliver Heins and Andrew Walsh in the middle. Hess has 18 goals and four assists to his credit, Heins has tallied 11 goals and two assists and Walsh has scored on five occasions.
“Our style creates a lot of turnovers, but I really think we need to do a better job of converting them,” Moreau said. “We have to become a better shooting team. We generate a lot of shots; I just want them to be more accurate.”
Spearheading the defense is Conor Deverin, who became the goaltender after playing long-stick midfield a year ago. The senior has been superb, turning aside 55 shots and using his 6-foot-4 frame to limit openings for opponents to shoot at.
Seniors Emmett Jennings and Dan Maloney patrol the back line along with junior Stephen Edler. Midfielders Billy Garravante and Ryan Tuorto are also strong defensively. All five handle the ball well, and their skill helps quicken the transition to offense.
Opposing teams have scored more than three goals against Rumson-Fair Haven. One of those was the 16-5 loss to IMG Academy. The game against a national power has benefited the Bulldogs.
“It was an important learning experience for our guys,” Moreau said. “To be fair, we weren’t really ready. It was our first game and with the weather, we weren’t able to get out that much. Still, I thought we played pretty well, and our guys saw what an elite team is like.”
Last season, the Bulldogs went 18-4 and defeated Manasquan High School to win the Shore Conference Tournament. Manasquan returned the favor by downing Rumson-Fair Haven in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association North Jersey, Group II tournament.
Moreau’s team is currently tied with Saint John Vianney High School for the top spot in the Shore Conference B North Division. The two teams were set to meet in Holmdel April 26. Rumson-Fair Haven will then host Red Bank Catholic High School April 29.
“We have big goals, but you have to play the games one at a time,” the coach said. “Our guys are still learning there’s a difference between playing fast and rushing. We have to get better at that.”