MORRISTOWN, N.J. — St. Anthony’s overcame a slow start in its annual game with Delbarton, but despite their late comeback attempt, the Friars left the Garden State with their first loss of the season.
TJ Heagerty and Jared Nugent scored two goals apiece for visiting St. Anthony’s in its 7-5 non-league lacrosse defeat, which dropped it to 8-1.
“That’s a great team. When you come here it’s tough,” Friars coach Keith Wieczorek said of Delbarton (8-1), which is ranked 14th in the nation according to LaxPower. It was the 16th matchup between the two teams. The Friars lead the series, 9-7, and had won the last two matchups.
St. Anthony’s, which is 21st in the LaxPower ratings, fell behind 3-1 in the first quarter, and trailed 4-3 at halftime, but was also outshot 9-4 in the first half. The hosts jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the third quarter, and though St. Anthony’s pulled two goals back, Delbarton’s physical defense preserved the win.
“We didn’t have a clean first half and to get out of there down by one, I thought we were lucky,” Wieczorek said. “We had some good looks early in the third (and) our effort in the second half was good. We just didn’t finish.”
“They were just a nice, athletic group,” Nugent said. “They pushed out a lot and caused turnovers.”
Nugent scored the Friars’ two first-quarter goals, blasting a shot from 10 yards out from Chris Merle’s assist to make it 2-1 Delbarton with 3:55 left in the period, and he scored again two minutes later to make it 3-2. After Delbarton got its fourth goal late in the second quarter, Nugent fed Heagerty on a fastbreak with 1:52 left in the first half to cut the deficit to one again.
Delbarton took a 7-3 lead in the third, seemingly putting the game out of reach. St. Anthony’s rallied after Heagerty netted his second from close range with six seconds left in the third and assisted Jon Huber’s goal with 7:19 left in the game.
The Friars had a chance to make it 7-6 when Merle got free from 10 yards out, but was denied by Delbarton goalie Chris Crowley with four minutes remaining.
“It’s never nice to get a loss, but it’s better to get it now than at the end,” Nugent said. “We’re going to play hard like this for the rest of the way.”