Facing their toughest challenge of the early season the No. 2-ranked Summit boys lacrosse team rose to the occasion. The Hilltoppers never trailed in their 9-6 win over Cold Spring Harbor (NY) at Rutgers University on Thursday afternoon. Summit jumped out to an early first-half lead and fought off a resilient Seahawks squad in the second.
"We knew it was going to be a dogfight coming in," said senior Nick Kilkowski. "We knew when the whistle blew we were going to have to come out here and fight."
Summit came out firing and impressed early on offense, never looking back. From the opening whistle the Hilltoppers attack controlled both the possession and the tempo of the game, patiently cycling the ball in their own zone before choosing an opportune moment to strike.
The Hilltoppers opened the scoring just 3:28 into the first period when Kilkowski (2 G, 3 A) found Mike Badgeley (1 G) on the left side who ripped a low shot that got through to give Summit a 1-0 lead that they would never relinquish.
Summit's attack kept their foot on the gas throughout the quarter and would find the back of the net just 1:18 later. This time it was Kilkowski with the finish off of an Austin Carbone feed from behind the net to put the Hilltoppers ahead 2-0. Summit added one more before the period wrapped up as Matt Maier found Liam Mening with 4:17 to play in the period for the 3-0 lead.
Defensively, the Hilltoppers were impressive all game, especially in the opening period when their zone set seemed to give the Seahawks fits. Cold Spring Harbor was unable to penetrate the cohesive zone for much of the contest, not scoring until just before halftime after Summit had built a 4-0 cushion.
Goalie Alex Salazar was also impressive, turning away 13 shots including six in the fourth quarter.
"We knew we had to work hard, practice hard," said senior defenseman Will Weber (5 GB). "Especially when it came to the zone, rotate a lot, get on their hands a lot, and make them make mistakes."
Summit, still riding high from their great first quarter, came out and added their fourth tally just :07 into the second. Streaking down the field off of Tom Lackaye's (5 GB) faceoff win, Kilkowski found Austin Carbone (3 G, 1 A) to put Summit ahead 4-0. The score would remain there until Cold Spring Harbor found the net with :44 left in the half on a Sean Doyle goal.
After a near perfect first half Summit struck first in the third period on a man-up opportunity when Mening's defected pass found Tom Celmer (2 G) for the finish at the 8:33 mark in the quarter. The Seahawks followed with an extra-man opportunity of their own and found the goal just :19 seconds later on an Allen Winkoff finish to bring the score to 5-2.
Cold Spring Harbor would score again on a fast-break goal when a streaking Doyle found Danny Simonetti for the goal with 6:28 to go in the third. With their opponent now within two, the resilient Summit squad quickly responded as Celmer picked up his second goal of the game on a Kilkowski feed with 5:27 to play.
"That's one thing we always preach, just to keep our heads up," said Weber. "Everytime they score a goal, just keep working hard."
Summit and Cold Spring Harbor would once again trade goals. A Doyle goal at 2:34 was soon followed by a man-up goal by Carbone to give the Hilltoppers a 7-4 lead with :42 until the fourth quarter.
Just like they did in the first three periods, Summit struck early into the fourth quarter. Kilkowski put away an impressive finish at the 10:57 mark after an equally impressive move to break free behind the net.
Trailing 8-4 and needing a goal, Doyle once again came through for the Seahawks with a great goal on a low-angle shot with 8:46 to go to get within three. Cold Spring Harbor struck once more to make it 8-6 on Simonetti's second tally of the game, but that would be all.
Summit got an insurance goal when Carbone picked up the hat trick on a great shake behind the net. The move freed him to come in front for the easy finish with 2:20 to play to seal the 9-6 victory for Summit.
The win for Summit is their second over a regional foe in the past six days, as they took down St. Joseph's (PA) 9-7 on Saturday afternoon at Tatlock. While challenging out-of-state games are certainly a great test for the Hilltoppers on the national level, they also help them prepare for the challenges that lie ahead in the postseason. The Hilltoppers know there is plenty of room for improvement, a scary thought for upcoming opponents.
"Not everyone on the offense has been in the same role in the offense, guys are still stepping in," said Kilkowski. "We need to do a better job of recognizing situations."
Summit returns to action on Saturday when they travel to Madison for a 2p.m. start against the Dodgers.
Summit 3 1 3 2 9 Cold Spring Harbor 0 1 3 2 6
S-23 CSH- 25