Old Bridge team hoping to peak at the right time

Despite a 3-8 record at the halfway point of the season, coach Bob Pense believes his Old Bridge High School boys’ lacrosse team can still reach the .500 mark.

"We’ve had a couple of bad games, but overall the team has played pretty well," Pense said. "They have the ability to finish strong, and I really expect that we’ll do well in the GMC [Greater Middlesex Conference] Tournament."

Pense bases his confidence on the Knights’ 7-6 overtime victory over East Brunswick, as well as Old Bridge’s win against Howell. In addition, the Knights lost one-goal games to both Hopewell Valley and Freehold Township, the latter in overtime.

Old Bridge also boasts a balanced scoring attack led by midfielder and co-captain Eric Goodwin with 16 goals and an assist.

Attack men Mike Gaffney (11, 6), Sean O’Keeffe (4, 5) and sophomore Taylor Bonner (8, 5) all can tickle the twine. Senior Jon Muscillo provides depth.

In the middle, Tom Gillespie (1, 4), the team’s top face-off man, junior newcomer Steve Johnson and sophomore John Hoernlein (2, 1) have played well, the coach noted.

Co-captain Steve Tupe anchors the defense, which also includes Dave Rusnak and juniors Jason Rodriguez, Rob Park and Mike Donnelly. Donnelly, who has missed several games with an ankle injury, is set to return this week.

James Conahan, a converted attack man, has played well in goal, Pense said. Junior Jon Santos is the reserve netminder.

Pense added that his younger players are gaining valuable experience and that should help when they assume starting roles next spring.

This group includes juniors Maynard Brooke, Mike Dobiez, Tamer Mady and Bill Sims; and sophomores Jeff Melillo, twins Aaron and Alan Owens, Jim Phillips, Dave Reiter and Dan Turner.

"At this point we’re taking it one game at a time," the coach said. "We want to peak in time for the conference tournament [May 14]."

After visiting Rutgers Prep on Wednesday, the Knights will host Edison tomorrow at 5 p.m. Next week they have games scheduled against North Brunswick on Monday, Immaculata on Wednesday and Manasquan on Friday.

— Warren Rappleyea