Bulldogs edged in overtime of Group II boys’ lacrosse finals

By Warren Rappleyea

Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School’s boys’ lacrosse team made its way to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) overall Group II tournament before its season ended with a hard-fought overtime loss to Ramapo High School, 12-11.

Bryan Hess scored seven goals and Rumson-Fair Haven appeared on its way to a win. Oliver Heins scored with 2:26 remaining in the fourth period to give the Bulldogs a three-goal lead. Ramapo, however, staged an epic comeback, scoring three goals in succession to tie the game — the last one coming with 19 seconds remaining in regulation time. Ramapo scored the winning goal on its second possession of overtime.

The Bulldogs had a strong season, going 21-4 overall under first-year coach Marc Moreau. After dropping a one-goal decision to Manasquan High School in a game Rumson-Fair Haven led after three periods, Moreau’s team rebounded to down the top-seeded Warriors May 27 in the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group II finals, 5-4.

Trailing 3-1 at halftime, Rumson-Fair Haven prevailed thanks to four second-half goals and a solid performance by goalkeeper Conor Deverin, who made 10 saves on the day. Charlie Curran scored twice, and Heins, Colin Pavluk and Alex Werner also scored in the victory.

Previously, second-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven had defeated sixth-seeded Somerville High School, 10-1, May 23 in the sectional semifinals. Pavluk, Andrew Walsh and Garrett Sweeney scored two goals each for the Bulldogs. Curran tallied six goals and Hess scored five in an 18-6 quarterfinals success over seventh-seeded Ocean City High School May 19. Moreau’s team easily bested 15th-seeded Hamilton High School West, 20-1, in the opening round May 17.

The Bulldogs ended the season with 313 goals scored and only 130 goals against. Four players scored 29 or more goals, and ball possession was the key to Rumson-Fair Haven’s game. Moreau said the experience his team gained in a season-opening loss to nationally ranked IMG Academy played an integral role the team’s success.

“It was a valuable experience,” he said. “Our guys saw what a really elite team is like, and considering it was our first game after not getting out much in the spring, we did all right.”

Pavluk led the team in scoring with 54 goals and 14 assists, and Hess, a midfielder, ended the season with 51 goals to go with 16 assists. Curran added 48 goals and 25 assists, and Werner tallied 29 goals and a team-leading 35 assists. Heins scored 18 times, Walsh had 14 goals and Ryan Tuorto posted 12 goals.

“Of our starters, nine of them are seniors, and that experience really helped us,” Moreau said. “We’re very strong up and down the field, and our defense [of Billy Garravente, Emmett Jennings, Dan Maloney and junior Stephen Edler] can all move the ball quickly. Our overall athleticism also enabled us to play at a high pace throughout, and that was the difference in several close matches.”