WEST CALDWELL- Harry Boland likes the fact that his Caldwell coaches trust him to make a quick decision and use his skill and athleticism to also make a big play at hopefully the most opportune time.
In Monday’s Essex County Tournament quarterfinal vs. Montclair Kimberley Academy, the Chiefs sophomore faceoff man helped switch momentum back in his team’s direction once and for all when he won a faceoff and then bolted in to fire in a goal to give his team an 8-6 lead with 6:11 left in the fourth quarter.
That goal, coming just six seconds following the go-ahead score from senior midfielder Brendan O’Donnell, reenergized third-seeded Caldwell which closed out with a 5-0 edge in the fourth quarter to earn a 10-6 victory over the sixth-seeded Cougars at Bonnel Field.
Caldwell moves into Wednesday’s ECT semifinals where it will meet second-seeded Montclair. In the other semifinal it will be top-seeded and 7-time defending champion Seton Hall Prep hosting fifth-seeded West Essex with the championship match set for Saturday at the higher-seeded team’s home field.
Caldwell (8-2) has a deep and very diversified team that features opportunistic attackman like junior Peter Murray, who had three goals vs. MKA, steady midfielders like O’Donnell, stelllar defensemen like senior Tyler Nolan, a very capable goalie in junior Pasquale Capozzoli and very efficient face-off men in Boland and junior Spencer Day, who combined to win 11 of 19 in that all-important area vs. the Cougars.
Boland’s critical faceoff victory and quick goal midway through the fourth quarter was a decisive sequence and its sudden impact did not surprise his coach, who has become accustomed to the very active motor of his splendid sophomore.
“That faceoff and goal were big momentum changing plays, no doubt about,” said the Chiefs’ veteran head mentor John Timan. “Harry plays with intensity, he’s a ball of energy and tough to stop.”
“It comes down to trusting myself and I know the coaches have trust in me to win a big faceoff and then I just had the confidence to take it in and try to score,” said Boland. “We all believe in each other and the coaches’ believe in us as a team.”
Another key factor for Caldwell vs. MKA (9-3) was the fact that the Chiefs close defense did a splendid job of holding the Cougars’ two most dangerous scorers, attackman Jake Waldman (1 goal) and middie Rollins Heath (1 goal) in check for much of the game.
“Waldman and Heath are great players going to very good colleges for lacrosse ( Georgetown and Kenyon, respectively),” said senior Tyler Nolan, who is very adept with the long pole as he prepares to play next year a NJIT. “The game plan was for me to match up on Waldman and Chris Fermo and Jack Kenyon to alternate on Heath.
“They did a great job and I think our entire team defense was strong.”
Even with the solid defensive job by Caldwell, which also included strong net minding by Capozzoli (9 saves), MKA was persistent and came out strong in the third quarter outscoring the Chiefs, 4-2, including goals from Evan Grossman (from Waldman) and Heath to take a 6-5 lead with 2:14 left in the stanza.