Boys Lacrosse: Raiders lose to rival Westfield Blue Devils 10-5 in County Semifinals


Joe Kaplan and Matthew Levine

The Raiders boys lacrosse team fell to archrival Westfield Blue Devils in the Union County semifinals 10-5 on Thursday, May 20 bringing their record to 10-4 on the season. 


The Raiders found themselves in an early 2-0 hole a few minutes into the game but then responded with three straight goals to take a 3-2 lead early in the second quarter. The Raiders controlled much of the second quarter until they let up two goals to junior attackman James Haley who put the Blue Devils ahead to stay 4-3 going into halftime. 


Despite trailing at half, this was a winnable game for the Raiders who were as competitive as they have ever been with one of the premier programs in the state. This looked like the game the Raiders could finally defeat Westfield until Scotch Plains-Fanwood started the second half flat and surrendered two quick goals, which extended Westfield’s lead to 6-3. 


“We were playing well and we went into the 3rd quarter with slow feet and our guys kept getting beat in the one on one game,” junior midfielder Matt Power said. “We were really sloppy with the ball and had a lot of turnovers and failed clear opportunities.”


Senior and Fairfield University commit Aidan McClain led the Blue Devils with five points including four goals and one assist. The Blue Devils also won 12 faceoffs to Scotch Plains’ five. 


Junior Chase Alber led the Raiders with two goals while senior goalie Sam Oross had 11 saves. The Raiders high-powered offense consisting of juniors Mikey Kloepfer, Sandro Frias and Jake Monroy, was held in check by Westfield’s physical and dominant defensive play. 


Westfield’s dynamic offense took over in the second half as they capitalized on SPF’s defense to widen their lead. The Blue Devils outscored the Raiders 6-2 in the second half.  


The Raiders struggled to gain offensive possessions due to dropped balls and failed clears. The Raiders missed many ground ball opportunities and chances to advance the ball into the offensive zone. 


Defenseman Isaiah Nathaniel weighed in on what SPF needs to improve for their upcoming games. 


“Once we convert from defense to offense, we can’t immediately go straight to the goal,” Nathaniel said. “We need to actually possess it and take the time to articulate a way to get to the goal instead of just going straight.”


Nathaniel also noted what the game plan would be like if they were to see Westfield once more later on in the season. 


“The mindset there is just going to be possession,” Nathaniel said. “We have to hold the ball on offense because offense is just an extension of defense. This would make it easier for us to get back on defense quicker when the ball comes back over.” 


Although the Raiders lost, Power feels confident about their chances in the state tournament. 


“From here, we continue the regular season and have short term memories,” Power said. “Our goal is to win states and you should see us in the state finals.” 


The Raiders have two regular season games remaining until they begin the state tournament.