MAYS LANDING — Wednesday’s game closely resembled how the Ocean City High School boys lacrosse team started its season.
It had its slow start, but once the Red Raiders got on a roll, success followed.
Ocean City beat Oakcrest 13-1 in a Cape-Atlantic League game in which the Falcons scored first and kept it tight through the first half. Eight goals in the second half led Ocean City to its sixth win in the past seven games.
“It’s definitely nice to be in the groove of things,” said senior attack Logan Bloomstead, 18, of Seaville. “Everyone is with each other, and we’re playing like a team now.”
The Red Raiders, No. 8 in the Press Elite 11, improved to 6-4. Their four losses were against now-ranked No. 1 St. Augustine Prep, No. 5 Paul VI and two out-of-state powers.
“I’m happy with the way we’re responding because in the beginning of the season, guys are hanging their heads,” Ocean City coach Joe LaTorre said. “And I said to them, I’d be mad if they lost to a team we shouldn’t lose to, but those four losses we had early on were (against very good teams).”
Bloomstead led the Red Raiders with six goals and three assists, including scoring Ocean City’s first two goals of the game in the first quarter. Garrett Benvenuti had four goals and three assists, and Mark Kolmer made eight saves.
Ocean City had problems getting its shots through to the net in the first quarter, which went scoreless through nearly eight minutes of play. With 4 minutes, 1 second left and with the man advantage, Oakcrest took a 1-0 lead on Kyle Albright’s goal.
Ocean City responded a minute and a half later with Bloomstead’s goal and took a 2-1 lead into the second quarter. Harry Pfeifle, Bloomstead and Benvenuti each scored in the second to give the Red Raiders a 5-1 lead heading into the half.
“In the first half, we were a little shaky,” said Pfeifle, 17, of Ocean City. “We started working the ball in transition and figured out their defense and moved it around well. The defense played well the entire time, and we were able to shut down their two best scorers.”
Ocean City came out hot in the third quarter. Billy Kroeger won the faceoff and scored eight seconds in. Ocean City tacked on four more goals in the next four minutes and held a commanding 10-1 lead.
“You can tell the difference between both teams,” said Oakcrest coach Brett Hoffecker, who was short-handed Wednesday due to injuries. “Ocean City did everything they were supposed to do, they got the ground balls, they attacked the ball and they possessed the ball.”
Kreoger and Michael Calabro combined to win 13 of 16 faceoffs, allowing Ocean City to dominate possession.
“Both of them had been working very hard,” LaTorre said. “Early on they were getting worked by those teams we lost to. I think they took the lessons they learned from it.”
Ocean City is at Holy Spirit on Friday and hosts Notre Dame (Mercer County) on Saturday. Those games will set up Tuesday’s matchup against rival Mainland Regional, No. 6 in The Press Elite 11, in the game that could likely decide the CAL once again.
Ocean City won last year’s game 11-10, which decided the CAL. Both teams will be looking forward to the rematch, Pfeifle said.
“It feels good to be playing our best lacrosse at this point in time, because this is the stretch where we really need to take the CAL home,” Pfeifle said.
Ocean City 2 3 5 3—13
Oakcrest 1 0 0 0—1
Goals—Bloomstead (6), Benvenuti (4), Kroeger (2), Pfeifle OC; Albright O.
Goalies—Kolmer (8) OC; Miller (4) O.
Records—OC 6-4, Oakcrest 1-5.