Bareji helps Rebels hold off Armstrong in NWSC clash
BY MATTHEW DAVIS
SUN POST NEWSPAPERS
Now that Champlin Park has earned state-wide notice as a top team in boys lacrosse, finding every little way to win against opponents’ ‘A’ game becomes critical.
“We’re circled on everyone’s calendar,” Rebels coach Eric Borer said.
Success will require the Rebels to roll up their sleeves put on their hard hats. Actually, earn the hard hat in this instance.
Borer and his staff award a player after each game with a camoflouge hard hat for the player that gets the most ground balls. Scooping up the ball from the turf certainly does not make the highlight reels and doesn’t get as much notice as goals scored. Nonetheless, Borer has his players bear in mind the dirty work needed for winning lax contests.
“It’s for the guy who’s making the lunch-pale plays, the ones working the hardest,” Borer said.
In a critical conference game against Armstrong, Mario Bareji got to work and earned the helmet for the Rebels. He scooped up ground balls throughout the game and helped the navy-and-silver earn a 9-6 win over an upstart Falcons squad.
Borer said, “our short stick defensive midfielder Mario Bareji had an incredible game with a bunch ground balls and great mid-field defense.”
Such plays made a difference as the Rebels took almost all they could handle from an aggressive performance by the Falcons. Jonah Borowick cut the Rebels lead to a point, 6-5, early in the fourth quarter.
The no.-7 ranked Rebels responded with tightened defense and execution on offense. Previously, the Rebels looked out-of-sync offensively in large part due to Armstrong’s aggressiveness on defense. The navy-and-silver never led by more than a couple goals until late.
“I give credit to them,” Borrer said. “Armstrong was a big reason why we couldn’t execute.”
After Borrowick made it a one-goal game, the Rebels patiently looked for the right opportunity on offense and put their seventh goal in the net. Minutes later, Champlin Park used crisp passing to get past the Armstrong defense for another score.
“They were big goals, got the momentum back,” Rebels goalie Bryce Plunkett said.
The Falcons gave the Rebels about all they could handle with an aggressive offensive attack. Unfettered by the Rebels’ momentum, Borrowick assisted on goal and cut the lead back to a pair, 8-6 with 2:15 to go. A fortunate turn of events came for Champlin Park when Armstrong took possession again with under a minute but lost the ball because of too many players on the field due to a substitution error. The Rebels then iced the game at 18 seconds remaining on a set play.
Gage Monson led the navy-and-silver’s offense with two goals and an assist. Nick Bunde and Max Turgeon each scored two goals. Plunkett finished with nine saves in goal.
Contact Matthew Davis at [email protected]