Tenafly topples Ramapo for the first time ever

Cole Mogensen won 14 faceoffs for Tenafly, which won its first ever Gibbs Division game and its first against Ramapo, 12-7, on Thursday night.

TENAFLY -- What took 48 minutes of game time on a chilly night in the first week of the new season was actually a decade in the making. This is Tenafly’s 10th year as a varsity boys lacrosse program and the feeder program is the same age, which means that the Class of 2024 is the first to go through from start to finish.

“The youth program starts in third grade and we were the first third graders to ever come through, so we really have been playing since the beginning,” said senior defender David Levine. “Just to see all of the hard work come to fruition the way it did today is the absolute pinnacle of our hard work. It’s a great feeling to know that what we are doing here and the culture we are developing is really becoming something greater than us all.”

What Levine, the 13 other seniors on the roster and the entire program were so jazzed about on Thursday was a 12-7 victory over Ramapo, the Tigers’ first-ever against the well-established program from Franklin Lakes. Tenafly, which never trailed in this matchup, had been 0-4 against the Raiders since this senior class entered high school.

“We have kids that have bought in since they were young, which is amazing because sometimes when you get to high school other things become more important,” said Eric Quaranti, the only head coach that Tenafly boys lacrosse has ever had. “We have a true brotherhood here. These guys are all friends and it has been building. We won a league title with this group when they were freshmen, we finished top in the Jacobsen [Division] the last two years. This is our first Gibbs Division win, our first win ever against Ramapo. They had gotten us the last four times, but we were getting closer and closer and tonight we finally broke through. “

Tenafly signaled its intentions right from the jump as Cole Mogensen won the game’s first faceoff and Wyatt Darby scored on the game’s first shot just 53 seconds in to give the Tigers the lead. Ramapo forged the lone tie of the contest with 4:59 left in the first quarter on Nick Begina’s rip from the top before Hunter Escala gave the Tigers the lead for good when he pounced on the rebound after Ramapo’s standout keeper, Patrick Hogan (14 saves), made the initial stop of a Jason Cherezov shot.

Patrick Hogan made 14 saves for Ramapo.

It was 2-1 after the first period and 3-2 Tenafly after what was a physical first half played in front of a rowdy home student section at John B. Geissenger Field with both defenses taking center stage.

“David Levine is one of the best players that we have ever had and our defense is all seniors. They did a good job on their matchups and following the plan,” said Quaranti. “When you have guys like David Levine, Matan Rosenberg, Jan Balascak, Zach Woda, Devin Knause, five seniors that are all hungry, it keeps the score low.”

The pace picked up considerably after the intermission.

Tenafly scored the first three goals of the second half in the span of just 1:25. Dylan Reichel twisted a defender into knots before scoring from the doorstep, Cherezov finished from in close off a feed by Cooper Roberts and Reichel added a quick strike off the restart. Cole Mogensen kept the momentum churning by consistently winning faceoffs and distributing smartly as soon as he gained possession.

“Winning the clamp and picking up the ground ball is one thing, but one thing that some teams struggle with and something that you have to do in a big game is getting the ball to the attack and setting them up to score,” said Mogensen, who won 14 draws to Ramapo’s five. ”I think we did a fantastic job with our wing play today. They were flashing to the ball every time I won one and we were pushing early offense all game long.”

Dylan Reichel had 4 goals for Tenafly, which is now 2-0 on the season.

Having led by just a goal at the break, Tenafly stretched that to 6-2 less than three minutes into the third quarter, but Ramapo is too good a team with too decorated of a tradition to slink away quietly. The Raiders responded with three straight goals from Begina (3G, A), Tyler Ramiccio and Sean Monaghan (2G). The last one came with 1:37 left in the third period, with Ramapo a man up due to a taunting call, to get the Raiders to within 6-5. Tenafly called timeout.

“We got into the huddle and we regrouped. We have been through taunting calls, through questionable flags. Last year when we played Ramapo we had a controversial call where we were within five yards. They went a man up and then they scored in overtime,” said Cherezov. “We just had to stay focused and keep playing.”

It was still 6-5 heading into the fourth quarter when Tenafly got its groove back. Cherezov scored off a Roberts feed 1:11 into the fourth quarter to kick off a run of three straight goals that pretty much put the game away. Reichel scored two in a row to make it 9-5 with 8:26 left in regulation and the Tigers’ took advantage of the extra passing lanes down the stretch as Ramapo was forced to up its pressure late in the game.

“[Ramapo head coach Stephen] Harvey does such a great job with that program and that is part of the reason why we are so excited. We’ve never beaten these guys,” said Quaranti. “But things change and this gives us a confidence that we can play with anybody. We are going to see them again whether it is counties or states and they will want to turn it back around. We just have to stay humble, stay prepared and go one game at a time.”

Ramapo fell to 1-1 on the season while Tenafly is now 2-0 after a 15-1 dismantling of Paramus on Opening Day and with a game against West Milford coming up on Saturday. Wyatt (5 G, 1A), Reichel (4 G, 1A), Escala (2G) and Cherezov (1G) handled the goal scoring while Roberts facilitated with 5 assists. Senior goalie Chris Piluso made 8 saves in the Tigers’ net.

Less than one week in and with just two games played, Tenafly already has a signature win.

“This was an absolute team effort. From the faceoff X to the defense to the attack to the goalie, it was just an all-out effort and it is just great. It is an incredible feeling,” said Levine, who will play at Tufts next year. “We watch a lot of film, Coach Quaranti is great with making a game plan dealing with their attack and their middies and stopping them in transition. It comes down to practice and execution. We have rehearsed this 1,000 times so when we got out here for the game it just feels natural to us.”