Sectional championships are commonplace only for the most elite sports programs in New Jersey high schools.
The Summit boys’ lacrosse team certainly qualifies as one of those legendary programs.
For the vast majority of programs, a section title is the ultimate goal in every season. That’s what teams play for. For Summit, this is just one step towards his ultimate goal: winning the Tournament of Champions.
So after NJ.com’s Top 20 No.2 Summit beat West Morris, 12-6, in the final round of the North Jersey Group 2 tournament, there was no big celebration. . There were no piles of dogs or throwing sticks in the air. Just a few hugs and smiles and it was the next step.
“It’s always good,” said senior Luke DiNola. “It’s almost like it’s another checkpoint. We’ve made it this far, but that’s not what we’re looking to do. You can never take a team lightly. We went out and we won, so we have to prepare for the next game.
“Every time you bring stuff home it feels good,” said Michael Bonomo. “At the end of the day, our minds are set on this Tournament of Champions. We have to win the next game to get there. It was hot there so it was hard to keep going all the time, but we are a very resilient group. We know how to fight adversity.
The Hiltoppers took a 5-0 lead over West Morris and were able to put things on cruise control for the remainder of the game in the scorching heat. West Morris managed to stabilize the game and play Summit fairly evenly after dropping five goals, but it was too little and too late by then.
DiNola opened the scoring for Summit with back-to-back goals on undisputed practice and a nice spinning movement behind the net. Dylan Sebastian gave Summit a 3-0 lead with 5:03 left in the first quarter thanks to a good flat from Conor St. Amant. Two goals from behind-the-net moves from Sebastian and John Murray were the last two goals of the series 5-0.
“It was a hot day so I think both teams played hard despite the heat,” said Summit head coach Jim Davidson. “We wanted to go out to see if we could score a few goals early and we did. West Morris fought to the end, but we were able to settle in offensively and then control the game throughout the second half.
The closest to the Wolfpack was when James Panico went down 6-3 when he pulled the ball out of a draw and put it in the back of the net with 5:35 left in the second quarter. Summit then had four different goal scorers – Murray, Hunter Schluter, Bonomo and Sebastian – scored the game’s next four goals to put things out of West Morris’s reach.
Summit is looking to become the first team in program history to complete an unbeaten season since the 2010 Hiltoppers recorded a 23-0 record.
Even though the section title is not the end goal, Summit was thrilled to raise a trophy last year for seniors who didn’t have the chance and for the community at large.
“It’s basically like playing for both levels because all of these kids would give an arm and a leg to play again,” said DiNola. “The seniors from last year are there and support us. They text us before the games and make sure we win for them too.
“We don’t just play for ourselves; we are playing for the city, ”Bonomo said. “This program means a lot to a lot of different people. This has supported us a lot throughout our career. We have great alumni who support us tremendously. We play for them as much as we play for us. We are really proud to be Hiltoppers.
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