After 66 straight wins and two sectional championships, the Summit boys lacrosse team stopped Chatham High, 7-6, in a five overtime thriller at Ridge High to earn its third straight Group II championship on Thursday, fueled by a Sonny Round game-winner.
With both teams trading goals for much of the second half, a scoring drought consumed the final five minutes of the fourth frame, as well as the following four overtime periods, before Round secured Summits’ 67th straight win with 2:26 remaining in the games’ fifth OT.
“It was at the point where everyone is just running on empty,” Round said after the win. “Nick Kilkowski set a fantastic pick…I came hard off of it and luckily I got the look, and luckily I put the ball in the net.”
For video highlights from Summit's Group II victory, click here.
But before Round’s late heroics, teammate Mike Ford got the Hilltoppers going as he netted two goals less than 10 seconds apart late in the first quarter, giving Summit a 2-0 advantage after one quarter of play.
“Every game someone else [steps up] to get the team going,” Ford said. “Luckily I was the open man and I put the ball away.”
In a back and forth affair, Chatham controlled the time of possession for much of the second half, methodically passing the ball around and searching for an opening in the Summit defense. But the Summit back line stayed strong, keeping the Cougar attack from capitalizing.
“I think [Chatham] did a great job possessing [the ball] and we didn’t do such a great job,” Summit head coach Jim Davidson said. “We had our opportunities to possess a little bit longer, to be a little more patient, and we weren’t.”
“When it gets to these games, great defense shows up,” Davidson continued. “I think we played good defense and obviously they did [as well], but in a championship game everything tightens up a little bit.”
After Chatham’s Jack Eisenreich scored with 7:46 remaining in the second quarter to bring the game within one goal at 3-2, Ford again made his presence felt, scoring his third goal of the day to help Summit regain the two goal advantage.
Ford would add one more goal on the day – this one to put Summit up 5-4 with seconds remaining in the third quarter- giving him a game-high four goals in the win.
“We knew they were a good team going in,” Ford said. “They’re great kids and very well coached, and we knew it was going to be a battle all game. I thought our defense played great, our goalie Pete Bagdley played great, and luckily at the end we got a good shot away. It’s huge.”
And while winning 67 straight games is an amazing feat, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone on the Summit sideline boasting about the accomplishment.
"I really don’t think about it too much,” Davidson said of the streak. “I just think about going to the next game. I’m really more impressed with us getting through the game today and coming up with enough to win.”
Round echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“Give Chatham a ton of credit for playing one of the greatest games, in my mind, ever. It just feels so good right now to get that win. The streak is the last thing on my mind…Now it’s on to the next game.”
There haven’t been many, if any, games handed to this Summit team over the 67 game span. But after a game like this, it’s clear that Summit and their coach are proud to have earned yet another sectional title against a very formidable opponent.
“It was a pretty emotional game,” Davidson explained. “It was tough but the kids gutted it out and we’re happy to come out with the win. My hat goes off to Chatham. They played aggressive ball with a lot of passion…No one wanted to give in. It was just a great high school battle.”
Summit will be the likely recipient of one of two first-round byes in the Tournament of Champions which begins Saturday. The Hilltoppers will be looking for their third straight TOC championship when they do take the field on June 8.