Top-Ranked Rumson-Fair Haven Uses Fast Start to Put Away No. 5 Shore
RUMSON -- Shore Regional is a very good team, a group that is ranked in the top five in the Shore Conference and should be a contender for the South Group 1 sectional championship later this season. But against No. 1 Rumson-Fair Haven, the host Bulldogs proved early and often that they are simply on a different level from the rest of the Shore Conference.
Under the lights at Borden Stadium on Wednesday night, top-ranked Rumson stormed out to a big lead and never looked back, rolling to a 14-3 Shore Conference Class B North victory over the No. 5 Blue Devils and further cementing their status as the team to beat in the Shore Conference.
Senior midfielder Tommy French led a balanced attack with three goals while junior attackman Quinn Stankovits and senior midfielder Philip Passalaqua tallied two goals and one assist each. Senior Noah Beacher controlled the face-off X by winning 10 of 12 draws to lead a Rumson unit that was 16-for-20 on faceoffs in the game. Senior Jack McCarren added two goals, junior Cole Cashion had a goal and an assist, sophomore Andy Croddick, junior defenseman Beau Kemler, senior Dan Garvey, and junior Quinn Lumsden each scored once, and freshman Grayson Goldin assisted on two goals.
There wasn't much work to be done for Rumson's goalies. Junior William Setteducate played the first three quarters and made four saves before junior Mashall Halfacre took over in the fourth quarter and made two saves. Halfacre was making his season debut after working his way back from a knee injury suffered during the football season.
Sophomore midfielder Sam Madalone and junior attackman Carson Cooke each had a goal and an assist for Shore while senior middie Jamie Mazzacco scored once and junior goalie Walker Hunter made 19 saves to prevent what could have been an even bigger blowout.
Despite graduating several standouts such as 2021 Shore Sports Network MVP Patrick Jamin plus Specialist of the Year goalie Ryan Croddick, Rumson showed exactly why it began the season ranked No. 1 in the SSN Top 10 and No. 5 in New Jersey. The players who are either first-year starters or are taking on bigger roles this season have stepped in rather seamlessly, putting a spotlight on the program's overall depth. Rumson also played without standout senior attackman Christian Bockelmann on Wednesday, who suffered a hand injury vs. Seton Hall Prep and is going to be out for a few weeks. The Bulldogs certainly did not look like a team operating at less than full strength, however.
"It really stems from practice where we have 50-60 guys who are working their butts off trying to earn a spot and everyone is competing," Garvey said. "Every year we have seniors who graduate but have those younger guys coming in and guys who have been working their butts off for years ready to step in."
Beacher was dominant at the face-off X in the first quarter with wins on 5 of 6 draws and Rumson (3-1, 2-0) quickly set the tone when Stankovits scored off a setup from Cashion at 9:21 and French followed with an unassisted goal at 8:48. Garvey made it 3-0 at 6:56 and then Goldin fed Passalaqua for a goal at the 5:38 mark that stretched the lead to 4-0. French's second goal pushed the lead to 5-0 and Passalaqua netted his second of the game with 2:51 on the clock. Twelve minutes, six goals, and that pretty much wrapped up the game.
"We started fast and we knew they would be in a zone so we were working on some plays all week and just finding the gaps all game," French said. "Everybody was delivering all game."
"I think for us it's about bringing the same energy every game," Garvey said. "We always talk about putting the team first over ourselves. We're big on 'Hard Hat', the Jon Gordon book. It's being well done over well said. We have to come out every game with 100 percent effort with our foot on the gas no matter the opponent. We have to bury teams early."
Shore's chance to get back into the game came early in the second quarter when Rumson had two men in the penalty box, but the Bulldogs killed off the two-man advantage and pushed forward to make it 7-0. A takeaway by defensive midfielder Zach Iwan gave Rumson possession and Goldin dished to Croddick on the crease for a dunk at 10:13. Shore finally got on the board when Mazzacco scored at 8:22, but Rumson closed the first half with goals by Stankovits and McCarren to take a 9-1 lead into the break.
Rumson scored all four goals in the third quarter with Cashion, French, McCarren, and Kemler finding the back of the net to put RFH up 13-1 and start the mercy-rule running clock. Shore scored twice in the fourth quarter on goals by Cooke and Madalone with a goal by Rumson's Lumsden sandwiched in between.
Wednesday's victory cleared what will likely be the biggest hurdle toward securing another Class B North division title. Rumson has greater aspirations but it all starts with taking care of business at the ground level.
This past Saturday, Rumson showed it can play with the best teams in New Jersey when it went toe-to-toe with high-scoring Seton Hall Prep in an 8-7 loss to the No. 2 team in the state. The key going forward will be consistency and doing the little things that make a difference between winning a state championship and coming up just short.
"We made a lot of unforced errors and we came out knowing we can play with the top teams in the state," French said. "We went over the film and it very well could have gone the other way if we correct those mistakes."
"Our main takeaway was that we had great effort and focus," Garvey said. "We really played as a team and we were a few mistakes away. I think if we keep this energy and effort we can be the best team in the state."
This season will be the final time New Jersey uses the Tournament of Champions to play down to one ultimate champion, and Rumson would certainly love to make history in that regard. The Bulldogs are the only Shore Conference team to ever win a state group title and reach the T.O.C., which they did in 2015. To do so again they'll have to get through Manasquan and/or Wall in the sectional playoffs and then likely Summit in the Group 2 final.
"We never look ahead but we know the main goal is the T.O.C.," French said. "Obviously it was tough losing to Summit last year so we have a chip on our shoulder."