Boys Varsity Lax, Weeks 4 and 5: Dodgers Steamroll Competition in Six Win Run, Trip against Mount Olive, Triumph over Morristown


MHS Lacrosse Field

Ben Colao, Staff Writer

There is no exaggeration in saying that these past two weeks, from my experience as a player on the team, have marked some of our best performances as a program. That said, we still have plenty to work on, especially as we head into the Morris County Tournament this week. With that in mind, here are your reviews of the past two weeks’ games! 

Despite Slow Starts, Dodgers Prevail over St. Peter’s Prep and Cranford

In both of Madison’s games during the 4th week of the season against St. Peters Prep and Cranford, many parallels can be drawn. In both games, our adversary’s offensive sets mandated the adoption of a new defensive zone in an attempt to largely prevent their main offensive players from running up the score. In both games, our defense would have painfully slow starts in achieving success to that end. However, our determination to succeed and pull ourselves out of this slump – coupled with the consistent success of our offense – allowed us to earn the win. In playing down to the level of both of these teams, however, this win was made much more difficult than perhaps it should’ve been.

Senior Jack Chopoorian and sophomore Matthew Spagnoletti would each score two goals against St. Peters, along with a goal each from juniors William Clifford and Anthony Contessa, as well as a goal from senior Stephen Heffernan. The final score would be 7-6, Madison. 

Sophomore Matthew Spagnoletti would earn an incredible four goals alongside junior William Clifford’s three against Cranford, coupled with one goal apiece from seniors Jack Chopoorian and Luke Denison. The final score was 9-6, Madison.

Dodger Discipline Wins Out in Heated Match with Hanover Park

Hanover Park, long-time Madison rivals, was sure to be a heated-emotional match-up. HP is known for playing with emotion. Despite this, though, the Dodgers remained committed to their emotional discipline – a factor that would prove pivotal throughout the game. 

Hanover Park would score right out of the gate during a botched transition play, giving them an early lead and the Dodgers a chip on their shoulder. This would be answered by back to back goals from senior Carson McDonald, returning for his first game after a painfully long recovery from a torn ACL, but not until two more goals from HP would end the first quarter 3-2.  But the Dodgers came out ready to mount a comeback, but not before HP would score once more to start the second half.  But goals from sophomore Matthew Spagnoletti and junior William Clifford would soon turn the tide back in Madison’s favor. Heading into the 3rd, Madison would answer first with a hard dodge goal from junior William Baisch, followed by a transition step down from junior William Clifford, and then another from Baisch. HP would answer with one goal this quarter, but not before Clifford would score yet another goal in transition. The score now standing 8-5 Madison, the ball was firmly in HP’s court, but they weren’t done yet either. They would fire out with another goal to start the fourth, but it was too little too late. Repeated defensive stops, coupled with a few drawn out offensive possessions, allowed Madison to capture victory. The final score would be 8-6, Madison.

Dodgers Triumph in Exhilarating Gold-Out Game against Morristown

Saturday, April 30th, marked the 30 year anniversary of Madison’s Youth Lacrosse Program. As such, Varsity’s 7pm match-up against Morristown fell into the mix of youth-themed celebrations and games that occurred at MRC throughout the day. When it finally came time to take the field, Madison was led out by a host of youth players, who would remain and cheer on the Dodgers throughout the night. The game was also a “Go Gold for Jake” event, which also greatly contributed to the massive student/town crowd that turned out to support Madison.

As for my thoughts, they remained fixated on the first faceoff; especially since Morristown’s premier faceoff midi – a junior named Scott Marvin – had trained at clinics with me and knew my playstyle better than any previous opponent. Fortunately though, the Dodgers would have no worries regarding faceoffs that night- excluding violations on both sides, Madison dominated with 11 of 12 faceoffs won.

Defensively, the Dodgers would command a punishing man-to-man set that sought to shut down Morristown’s primary attackers. And, while failure to consistently slide led to some unnecessary goals, the defense was largely successful in this endeavor, especially when considering the show-stopping performance of goalie Joey Demarzo (13 saves).

Offensively, the Dodgers worked to perfect a new set of plays to break down Morristown’s zone; particularly by setting up step-downs and stretching the zone high to allow our attackmen to dodge low. And again, while suffering from somewhat of a slow start, this would ultimately prove instrumental in Madison’s victory.

First blood would be drawn by Morristown late in the first quarter, with a step down from #23. However, this would quickly be answered by a low dodge goal from sophomore Matthew Spagnoletti, and again by a hard dodge goal from junior William Clifford before the quarter could come to a close. Morristown would fire out again in the second with a goal off of a sweep, and again not long after. These goals would go unanswered as the game entered into halftime, but we were far – far – from ready to let that game go. Coming out into the 3rd quarter, the Dodgers had only one thing on their mind: victory. Madison would answer first with an alley goal from senior Jack Chopoorian, as well as another hard fought goal from junior William Clifford. #23 from Morristown would respond, though, keeping the score tied heading into the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Matthew Spagnoletti led out with a terrific step-down from the island (perimeter about 8 yards from the goal), but this would be answered by yet another goal from Morristown. As the minutes ticked away, both teams neck and neck, it appeared it would all come down to whoever could score first and then kill the clock. Fortunately, the Dodgers would seize this opportunity first: Senior Jack Chopoorian fired another step down into the back of the net, placing Madison ahead 6-5. A frustrating violation lost Madison the subsequent possession, but the Dodgers quickly forced a defensive stop and were able to clear the ball and secure an offensive possession with just under two minutes on the clock. Having succeeded in this, Madison worked to draw down the clock until just 20 seconds left; too late for Morristown to ever return an attempt on the goal. The final score would remain Madison 6 to Morristown 5, and rightfully earned its place as one of the most exhilarating victories I’ve ever been a part of. 

The Player’s Perspective: A Success Story Still in the Works 

As a team, we have enjoyed some incredible success in the past two weeks. For a program that has struggled to even win a game in recent years, 7-3 is a sensational position to be in heading into the Morris County tournament, and one that’s well earned too. Myself, along with my teammates, have put in the work to be the team we always knew we could be, and seeing that work translate into victories is an amazing feeling (I don’t think I’ll forget the night of our victory against MoTown, especially for how well I was able to perform). That said, every game remains a reminder to myself and my team of where we still stand to improve; especially if we hope to continue our newfound streak. Mount Olive in particular stands out in my mind, as it truly was a game we could’ve won had it not been for a myriad of smaller errors that never should’ve been made – that frustration sticks with me just as much as the pride that comes with any victory. This team may be a success story, but still one being written – and our foot can’t be let off the pedal until it’s finished. Personally, I can’t wait to see it through to the end, and to give it everything I’ve got. Madison travels to Mendham for its first County Tournament match-up on Tuesday, May 3rd, followed by an away game against Kittatinny on Thursday, May 5th and a home game against Roxbury on Saturday, May 7th. Let’s take that next step.

Go Dodgers!