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May 17, 2012
Bulldogs rally to win the SCT title

HOLMDEL — Very few Shore Conference boys lacrosse teams have tested Rumson-Fair Haven this season as much as Jackson Memorial did on Wednesday night in the Shore Conference Tournament final at Holmdel High School.

The Jaguars led by two goals entering the fourth quarter and were one quarter away from becoming the only Ocean County school to win the boys lacrosse SCT before defending SCT champion Rumson-Fair Haven staged the comeback of the season.

The Bulldogs rallied from that two-goal deficit and scored three unanswered goals in a potent fourth quarter to claim a 9-8 victory over the Jaguars.

Rumson-Fair Haven’s Dan Babiak had a monster fourth quarter by scoring the game-tying goal with 4:26 left and then the game-winning goal with 31 seconds left.

“On the game-tying goal, I ran down the field and they collapsed on me and I kind of got pressed and I couldn’t do anything with the ball,” Babiak said. “So, I was just holding it and then they all backed off me and I just stepped in and shot the ball. I was definitely surprised.”

That goal was Babiak’s second of the game and it tied the game at 8-8.

For a moment it looked like the SCT final was headed to overtime for the second time in the tournament’s eight-year history but Babiak made sure that didn’t happen.

“It was just instinct on the game-winning play. On the play that we were running, I was supposed to stay near the crease and then we were going to work the ball around and then I was supposed to set a pick off the crease,” Babiak said. “That didn’t work. Michael Clarke had the ball and he had no one to throw it to and I just popped off and he was able to get it to me.”

Even though Babiak put Rumson-Fair Haven ahead with 31 seconds left, there was still at least one more faceoff that one of the teams had to win.

The Bulldogs (16-0) won the final faceoff and were able to kill the clock for their third SCT title. The Bulldogs now only trail CBA, which has four SCT titles, and became the second team (joining CBA) to ever win consecutive SCT titles.

“In any sport that I’ve played those were the two biggest plays I’ve ever done,” said Babiak, who finished with three goals and one assist.

Rumson-Fair Haven led 4-1 after the first quarter after Babiak scored his first goal and Clarke struck for three consecutive goals.

Jackson Memorial (14-4) then dominated the second quarter to take a 6-5 lead at halftime. The Jaguars scored five consecutive goals starting with Austin Letts’ goal with 11:01 left in the second quarter and that streak ended with Connor Cunningham’s goal with 4:01 left in the second quarter. After Cunningham’s goal, Jackson Memorial led 6-4 and then Rumson-Fair Haven’s Chris Sutphen scored with 1:47 left in the second quarter to give the Bulldogs the momentum going into the second half.

“We made a few mistakes in the fourth quarter and they capitalized on the mistakes that we made,” Jackson Memorial coach Nick Caruso said. “In the second quarter, we just wanted the ball in our best players’ hands and we schemed to do that and we had the opportunities to do that. We knew we could play with them and we knew we were right there.”

The Jaguars remained the only Ocean County school to ever make it to the SCT final. After last year’s 12-3 SCT final loss to Rumson and a 6-4 loss to Rumson on April 28, the Jaguars have lost the last three meetings between the schools.

AA Written by

Sherlon Christie