Hess, fellow seniors come up big as Oakcrest boys lacrosse tops Middle Township 7-5

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher MAYS LANDING — It took less than 10 seconds for the seniors on the Oakcrest boys lacrosse team to realize they weren’t going to be denied a win by Middle Township on senior night. Trevor Holak scored off the opening faceoff just nine seconds into the game to give the Falcons a lead they would never relinquish in a 7-5 victory over the Panthers. Matt Hess, one of 18 seniors in the Oakcrest boys lacrosse program, finished with three goals, and Holak added three assists as the Falcons jumped to a 6-2 lead then held off a fourth-quarter rally by Middle to improve to 7-3. The win was important for a couple of reasons. First, it kept Oakcrest (7-0) as the only undefeated team in Cape-Atlantic League play, although Ocean City has more wins (10-1). Second, it marked a sweep of the season series against Middle Township. The current Oakcrest seniors had never experienced a win over Middle during their careers prior to this season. In fact, no Oakcrest player ever had. Before this season, Oakcrest was 0-12 against the Panthers in their team’s history. Oakcrest's Paulie Stablini celebrates after scoring a goal during the first half of the Falcons' 7-5 win over Middle Township on Friday night. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Oakcrest’s Paulie Stablini celebrates after scoring a goal during the first half of the Falcons’ 7-5 win over Middle Township on Friday night. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) “We’ve only ever beaten this team once before in our entire school history, and for both those wins to come this season is exciting. We’re having a great year. Everybody is working hard,” said Hess, who scored all three of his goals in the third quarter and helped Oakcrest extend its lead from 3-2 to 6-2. “The whole team is pumped. We’re ready for the rest of the season and the playoffs. It’s going to be a good year.” Senior goalie Nick Verzicco also came up big for the Falcons. He only had seven saves, but several of them were key saves in the third quarter that allowed Oakcrest to get back on offense and extend its lead. “It really does feel great. We played great all around,” Verzicco said. “Most of the saves I made I owe to my defense for forcing them to take shots from far out. And they get out of my way on screens, which allows me to see the ball and make the saves.” “He’s phenomenal, he really is. He’s a big role model, a great captain, and he gets it done on the field,” Hess said of Verzicco. To its credit, Middle Township (6-7, 6-5) didn’t buckle despite entering the fourth quarter down by four goals. Jack Denis scored two of his game-high four goals in the final five minutes to cut the Falcons’ lead to 7-5, but the Oakcrest defense forced several turnovers that allowed them to burn a lot of time off the clock in the waning minutes. Paulie Stablini had an outstanding game for Oakcrest and contributed a goal to the score sheet, while Evan Kaufman added two goals and an assist. Tom Giardino added an assist for Oakcrest, and Middle Township goalie Tommy Williams finished with 19 saves. Verzicco said he believes this win will give the Falcons some serious momentum heading into the final month of the regular season. “We have momentum now, and we need to take this into the next game and capitalize on us playing well. We’re really trying to take the CAL this year, going out there and giving it everything we’ve got,” Verzicco said. “I’m so glad to have this group of guys around me who are willing to throw their bodies on the line every game.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan:; on Twitter @GDsullysays Check out for a corresponding photo gallery [adsense]


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