NEW PROVIDENCE – After losing two of its last three regular-season games and allowing 23 goals in the two losses, the New Providence High School boys lacrosse team has turned its season around at just the right time.
Four days after taking out Lower Cape May by a score of 12-1, the fourth-seeded Pioneers nearly replicated that score against 12th-seeded Delaware Valley on Tuesday.
Behind the stellar play of goalie Garrett Pope and the defense in front of him, New Providence (16-4) toppled the Terriers 11-1 in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA South Group I Tournament. With the victory, the Pioneers will travel to top-seeded Rumson on Thursday with a spot in the sectional final in the balance.
“We have a ton of talent, defensively, so it’s more a matter of making sure we don’t do stupid things,” New Providence coach Vinny Carangelo said. “We play together and we’ve used the fundamentals of defense and in these two games, we’ve done a really nice job.”
The high-scoring trio of James Burke, Jon Ebert and Jack Harvey made sure that the Pioneers would have more than enough goal-support to take down Delaware Valley, as they combined for eight goals and three assists on Tuesday.
Burke netted all three of his goals in the opening half, with two of those coming in the first quarter, and Ebert scored two of his three in the first 18 minutes of play. Harvey – who leads the team with 111 points on the season – picked up two goals and two assists, with both goals and one of the assists coming in the fourth quarter with the game no longer in doubt.
“We have a lot of guys, so if Jack has a tough day, we know he’ll bounce back in the next game. He still played very well, but other guys can step up and the biggest thing is that they all have to trust each other – which they’ve been doing – and we just need to sustain that,” Carangelo said. “We are proud of how far we’ve gotten here, but we can’t be satisfied with this. Last year, it was all about winning that first conference title, but once we did it, it was like we had accomplished our primary goal and the rest kind of fell out. So that’s keeping us hungry and we have the talent to do it”
Quinn Killeen chipped in two goals and Steve Anderson hit for a goal to round out the New Providence offensive attack, in a game where it out-shot Delaware Valley 23-12.
The Terriers didn’t get on the board until the 5:04 mark of the third quarter, when Alex Pfreundschuh converted a pass from Matt Nugent. Throughout the contest, Delaware Valley couldn’t seem to put multiple passes together to put any pressure on Pope and the New Providence defense.
Pope, who’s allowed 5.2 goals per game this season, made just six saves in the win and deflected a lot of the credit to the defenders playing in front of him after his second straight game allowing just one goal.
“The defense has been playing really well and I’ve been seeing the ball pretty well and I think we’re playing really well right now,” Pope said. “We’re not making many mistakes at all, which is good, and we’re putting it together. We’re really, really hot right now and we can beat anybody.”