By Jim Hintelmann
WEST LONG BRANCH – Knocked back on its heels when Southern Regional scored two quick goals in the first 3 minutes of play, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional’s chances of winning its fourth straight Shore Conference Boys Lacrosse Championship appeared in jeopardy.
With a veteran team, however, the Bulldogs kept their poise and exploded for six straight goals during the rest of the quarter en route to an impressive 17-10 win Tuesday, May 13, at Kessler Field at Monmouth University.
“Even when they scored those first two goals, we were still confident and remained calm,” said Rumson senior Chris Hubler, who led the attack with four goals and an assist.
“Our seniors have been here for four years,” he said. “This is our last year and we wanted to go out on top.”
Hubler will be playing lacrosse for national power Johns Hopkins University next season.
“This win is special because this group has 18 seniors who have played together for a long time,” said Rumson first-year coach Andy Eastwood, who was an assistant coach on the three previous championship teams.
Southern (15-2), whose only other loss was to South Jersey power Lenape, started quickly with Shawn McManus and Dylan Jinks scoring fast goals, but Rumson came roaring back with six straight goals for a 6-2 first-quarter lead.
“Give credit to Southern,” Eastwood said. “They have a talented team, but we responded the way we should have and settled down.”
Chris Sutphen got Rumson started with a goal from in close, and then Robert Garavente, Sutphen, Hubler, Colin Shea and Dominic Padula followed in quick order.
“We didn’t quit,” senior JT Jennings said. “We stuck it out and got the victory. As a senior, there is no better way to go out.”
Southern’s Chris Smith snapped the streak with a goal early in the second quarter, but Garavente and Padula scored for an 8-3 lead.
Jinks, who matched Hubler for scoring honors with four goals, scored, but Hubler and Sutphen answered with Sutphen’s goal being a 25-yarder with just 9 seconds left in the half.
“We executed our game plan to a ‘T’,” Eastwood said. “Our defense was good and everything clicked.”
Hubler and Padula opened the third quarter with goals and, after Jinks added another, Hubler, Lucas Seckler and Garavente scored to open it up to 16-5.
Southern made the game a little closer by scoring five goals in the final quarter, but most of them were against Rumson’s reserves.
Before RFH’s four-peat, the last Shore team to win a Shore Conference boys lacrosse title was Red Bank Catholic, which defeated Rumson for the title in 2010.