OCEAN CITY — When the third-quarter clock started Wednesday, some of the Ocean City High School boys lacrosse starters were on the bench.
By the fourth quarter, it was almost all backups running the show.
The second-seeded Red Raiders scored 14 first-half goals en route to an 18-2 victory over 15th-seeded Toms River South in the first round of the South Jersey Group III playoffs.
Ocean City, which improved to 18-2, will host seventh-seeded West Windsor-Plainsboro North in the quarterfinals Saturday.
“It felt alright,” Ocean City coach Joe LaTorre said. “I think today wasn’t our best effort. We had spurts where we played our game, and then we had spurts where we played the game we don’t normally play. I’ll take that one on the coaches, myself and my staff. We have to do a better job of getting them to understand certain things.
“But for the most part, the guys played hard.”
Ocean City has been dominant the entire season, winning 13 games by 10 or more goals. It finished the regular season undefeated against Cape-Atlantic League opponents.
The Red Raiders captured the CAL American Division title.
And LaTorre said the practices have been the most intense of his seven-year tenure.
“The difference between us this year and any other year is the seniors,” LaTorre said. “The senior class I have is very strong. I couldn’t say that in previous years, and I think their leadership on and off the field has also fueled the fire of the younger players.
“A lot of our success this season can’t be pointed to just coaches. I tell the kids, ‘Who wants it?’ And these guys make conscious decisions every day to get better.”
Christian Kuhn had a team-leading six points. The senior scored five goals and added an assist. Trent Laveson, a senior, scored four goals. Anthony Inserra, a senior, added four assists.
Billy Kroeger had four assists and scored. The senior had 14 ground balls and was perfect on the faceoff.
“In the first quarter, we came out a little bit flat,” said Kuhn, 17, of Longport. “We got like two goals (early), but we weren’t getting good looks. But toward the second half of the first quarter, everything clicked and more goals came in from looking more and more.”
Noam Levy-Smith, who had four goals, scored three minutes into the first quarter. Kroeger scored a few minutes later. Ocean City did not have any offense until Kuhn scored back-to-back goals within 18 seconds late in the first quarter.
Last season, Ocean City was the top seed in the S.J. Group II bracket, but lost in the quarterfinals to Somerville.
Kuhn said that is motivation for him and his teammates.
“We were getting a really big lead,” Kuhn said, “and we don’t want any injuries. So, it’s good to have a bunch of different kids see the field and get goals, even in the playoffs.”
Toms River South 0 1 0 1 - 2
Ocean City 7 7 3 1- 14
OC—Kuhn (5), Laveson (4), Levy-Smith (4), Brooks, Cassaboone, Calabro, Grodziak, Kroeger
Goalies— Dahl (4), Perro (2) OC; Krauser (11),
Records— Ocean City 18-2; Toms River South 2-14.