MONTGOMERY: Cougars roll to sectional lacrosse crown

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Pictured are members of the Montgomery High School boys lacrosse team after winning the South Jersey Group IV championship with a 16-8 win over Lenape.

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
The Montgomery High boys lacrosse team didn’t forget what it took to win last year’s South Jersey Group IV championship game against Lenape.
And because that memory was still fresh for the Cougars, they started quickly in this year’s championship game rematch.
A year ago, the Cougars rallied from seven goals down in the third quarter to win the sectional title. This time around, Montgomery scored twice in the first minute and jumped out to an 8-1 lead on its way to a 16-8 win over the sam Lenape team in the final.
“It’s a real good feeling,” Montgomery senior Niko Ipeker said after the win last Saturday. “Last year we came back and it was a real struggle to win that game. This year we came more prepared and more focused. We knew what we were going against and we just put it all out there.
“I guess we were just nervous last year. We had never been there before. This year we knew what we were expected to do and we came out here and just played well.”
Ipeker scored eight goals in the win over Lenape to pace the offense for the Cougars, who seem to have a different player step up and lead the way on offense each game. Kyle Marripodi added five goals, while Joe Mercurio scored twice and Dan Engels added a goal.
“It is really helpful to have everyone be so strong where we can rely on someone if one of us makes a mistake because we know someone else has our back,” Ipeker said. “This year our younger kids like Kyle Howard and Shane Freda really picked it up. They are helping balance out our offense a lot.”
The Cougars have been finishing games strong this year and that helped the team win its second straight sectional title. They improved to 16-5 with the win and took a four game win streak into the Group IV state final against Ridgewood. The game was halted due to weather on Wednesday with the Cougars leading 1-0 midway through the first period. The game was scheduled to be completed on Thursday. With a win, Montgomery would advance to the Tournament of Champions.
“We have been working on that a lot the last two years,” Ipeker said of the strong finish to the sectional final. “We have not been able to finish games very well. But now, I think we are coming to a point where we can keep our composure and continue to finish big games when they are closer than we expect.”
“This senior class is very strong. We have a bunch of great leaders and we know each other and our tendencies. We can always pick each other up. We have great chemistry and no one is ever down on one another. Someone is always picking someone else up.”