By Brian Deakyne
RUMSON – Since preseason began in March, Rumson-Fair Haven boys lacrosse head coach Reid Jackson has reminded his team that they should play like they did in the second half of the 2012 game against Summit.
We cannot display this galleryThat game, during which Rumson lost to top-seeded Summit in the semifinal on the Group I state playoffs last year, 13-7, saw the Bulldogs rally back in the second half after getting dominated by the Hilltoppers over the first two quarters.
On Saturday, May 25, one day short of a calendar year from that Summit loss, the Bulldogs got their revenge. Top-seeded Rumson jumped out to a fast lead over second-seeded Bernards in the South Jersey, Group I final and never looked back, pulling out a 10-6 win to win the first sectional championship in school history.
“It’s awesome. We made history in that three-peat and now we took home our first state championship, so it’s awesome to be part of all of it,” junior attackman Colin Shea said. “I wouldn’t be happier to do it with anyone else but the guys on this team right here.”
Rumson took a 5-0 lead over Bernards in the first half and used that edge to coast to the win without much trouble. The win adds another notch to the Bulldogs impressive season. Rumson won its third consecutive Shore Conference Tournament on May 14 and has advanced the furthest it has ever been in the state playoffs.
“We’re a history-maker this year,” Jackson said. “We three-peated in the Shore Conference, and this is the furthest we’ve ever been.”
Senior attackman Michael Clarke, who had a big game in that loss to Summit last year, led the way for Rumson with four goals and one assist on Saturday.
“Last year, we came in a little nervous against Summit and then in the second half, we opened up and played our game,” Clarke said. “Coach Jackson always says, ‘Play like the second half against Summit’ and that’s how we started off today.”
“Coach has been saying to start from the second half of the Summit game ever since Day One and we kind of took that game as motivation for this year, to get back at it and get a state championship,” Shea said. “We got it, so it worked.”
Senior midfielder Hunter Rotchford scored two goals for the Bulldogs. Junior midfielder Chris Hubler, junior attackman Chris Sutphen and junior attackman Dominic Padula each added a goal for the Bulldogs in the victory.
The win sent Rumson to the Group I final on Wednesday, where it faced the North Jersey, Group I champion, Mountain Lakes, at Livingston High School.
“We’ve been here before and playing Jackson is like playing a big game,” Clarke said. “We’re such big rivals with them now and they go at us and we go at them. It’s really nice since we were in the semifinal last year, we just get further and further every year.”
The game was played through a cold spell with a constant rain on Saturday. Nevertheless, fans from both teams were out and created an impressive environment for a lacrosse game in the Shore Conference.
“Big crowd in 50-degree weather and constant drizzle, it was nice to see,” Jackson said. “This is a parent-funded program that’s 10 years old and I think it says a lot.”