By Warren Rappleyea
The Old Bridge High School boys’ lacrosse team persevered through bad weather and a slow start and went on to win the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament with a double-overtime victory, 8-7, against Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen May 15.
Knights goalkeeper Thomas Francy, who scored 43 goals as an attacker last season, made the play of the match. The senior made a save and took the ball behind his own net. As his teammates headed downfield, most of the Falcons’ defenders followed. Sensing opportunity, Francy unexpectedly sprinted up the field, made his way into the St. Joe’s zone and found Pat Rosiak near the net. Rosiak then deposited the ball in the back of the net for the game-winning goal.
“The middle of the field was wide open and Thomas [Francy] saw it,” Old Bridge coach Andrew Borriello said. “He recognized that their defense collapsed back, and he took off. Thomas got down the field so quickly no one really knew what was happening.”
It was an up-and-down match throughout, with both teams holding leads. St. Joe’s tied the game with just under three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
Micah Trawick led the Knights offense with three goals and an assist and picked up nine ground balls. Rosiak and Justin Fox scored two goals and one assist apiece, while Bryce Walker added three assists. Francy made 11 saves.
Previously, Old Bridge defeated Monroe Township High School, 6-3, in the semifinals despite being outshot, 21-14. Francy turned aside 16 shots, while Rosiak posted three goals and an assist and Trawick had two goals and two assists in the win.
In the quarterfinals against South Brunswick High School, the Knights held a commanding 9-3 lead after three periods and had to withstand a furious Vikings comeback to hold on for a 10-8 victory. Bryson Corbett, Fox and Trawick all tallied hat tricks to pace the offense, and Rosiak contributed four assists.
Winning the GMC Tournament title and ending up at 13-5 is a major accomplishment for a team that rarely won faceoffs. Borriello was breaking in Chancellor Cooper as the primary faceoff man, but Cooper suffered an early-season injury and missed the remainder of the campaign.
With a faceoff plan designed to keep the ball on the ground so Trawick, or someone else, could pick it up, Trevor Schwartz and Steve Keefe would immediately check the opposition.
“We play a style that depends on possessing the ball and taking smart shots,” the coach said. “But you need the ball. Our guys did a great job forcing and getting to ground balls.”
Borriello, who normally coaches the defense, assigned that job to assistant Anthony Rybek this season. Seniors Larson Wolf, Brandon Williams and Patrick O’Regan, Matt Van Horn and Keefe did a solid job in front of Francy, who made 200 saves on the season.
“I thought it was time to switch things up,” Borriello said. “Coach Rybek did an outstanding job. He made some great adjustments, and our defense got better and better. Our guys take pride in our defense; we feel it’s the best in the GMC, and defense wins championships.”
On the other side the field, Fox led the team with 48 goals and added 16 assists, and Trawick posted 43 goals and 22 assists to go with a team-leading 94 ground balls. Rosiak added 34 goals and 17 assists. Corbett had 15 goals and 18 assists, Walker had nine goals and led the team with 31 assists and Dylan Schwartz contributed 12 goals.