LIVINGSTON, N.J. – The late charge was impressive but just not quite enough.
Trailing by five goals after three quarters, St. Augustine fought back but ran out of time, losing to St. Joseph Metuchen, 7-6, Wednesday in the NJSIAA state Non-Public A boys' lacrosse final at Livingston High.
"We just didn't bury shots," St. Augustine senior Gabe Voumard said.
The Hermits not only missed shots, but also hit posts - six by an unofficial count. The offense took a long time to find its rhythm.
Trailing by 6-1, the Hermits cut the lead in half on consecutive fourth-quarter goals by Nikko Pontrello, the second with 5 minutes, 55 seconds left.
When Voumard made it 6-4 with 3:31 remaining, things got really interesting.
St. Joseph appeared to seal matters on a goal by Kevin Cernuto with 2:48 to play. Then, St. Augustine's Steven Pontrello scored his second goal of the game, and that was followed by a score by Tommy O'Neill with just 5.7 seconds left.
On the ensuing faceoff, St. Augustine was awarded the ball after the Falcons were called for illegal procedure. Voumard flung the ball into a crowd of players, the clock ran out, and St. Joe Metuchen (22-1) had the championship.
"St. Augustine is an outstanding team," St. Joseph coach Marc Moreau said. "If anybody would have told me they would finish the first half scoreless and the first three quarters with one goal, I would have said they were crazy."
The only crazy part was navigating past a stellar St. Joseph defense. Finally in the fourth quarter, St. Augustine played with urgency and much more aggression.
"For a team that is used to scoring, those first three quarters had to be frustrating," said St. Augustine coach J.C. Valore, whose 19-3 team is ranked No. 1 in South Jersey by The Inquirer. "This was just a situation where we needed to finish more."
St. Augustine 0 0 1 5 – 6
St. Joseph Metuchen 2 0 4 1 – 7
Goals: SA-Steven Pontrello 2, Nikko Pontrello 2, Gabe Voumard, Tommy O'Neill; SJM-Andrew D'Ambrosio 2, Ryan Loughlin 2, Brendan Ulrich, Ed Lubowicki, Kevin Cernuto.
Saves: SA-Joe Gigantiello 12; SJM-Harry Burke 10.