WOODBRIDGE, NJ — The second game of back-to-back sets is always tough — especially after dropping the first one.
Less than 24 hours after a one-sided loss, St. Joseph’s Mark Borek set the tone just over four minutes into the game and the Falcons never looked back en route to a 5-1 victory over Paul VI at the Woodbridge Community Center.
“We knew we needed to come back after that loss and we needed to come back strong,” Borek, who scored twice in the win, said. “After a tough loss to Morristown-Beard the other day, we needed to pick up a win. We came out strong, picked up a goal early on and just kept it going from there.”
“We looked over our mistakes and started getting prepared, mentally and physically, for the next game,” said Ivan Borisov, who finished with a goal and an assist. “We can’t be upset about a loss. We know we can do better and we showed that today.”
After Borek broke the ice 4:31 into the game, assisted by Joe Morrello, St. Joseph (4-2) doubled their lead when Chris Ciccarello scored on a nifty finish with 1:23 left in the opening frame.
Despite a combined 14 shots on goal in the second period, Paul VI (2-4) remained within striking distance, however, thanks to the play of Rob Kane, who finished with 33 saves in between the pipes.
“Rob really played a hell of a game,” Paul VI coach Nick Miller said. “He made all the routine saves and then some to keep the game close.”
Blessed with a power play 25 seconds into the third, St. Joseph made the man-advantage count when Borisov found the back of the net assisted by Jason Pliszak and Matt Samarelli.
“Our power play is pretty good. As we get the opportunities, we need to score,” Borisov said. “For our team, a quick start is very important. It gives us the belief we can score more and win the game.”
“That power-play goal was big for us — it really got the morale going on the bench,” Borek said. “We’re a pretty good offensive team. We need to capitalize on our power play opportunities when given. When we do, we’ll be successful.”
Paul VI never stopped attacking and made it a 3-1 game 1:38 later when Bailey Guetens scored with an assist from Edde Lutz.
The goal would be the only time Paul VI would solve St. Joseph netminder Nick Adams, however, who finished with 20 saves.
Just 1:42 later, Borek notched his second goal of the game, assisted by Morrello and Sam Welsh.
“We wanted to capitalize off the rush, utilize our speed and create chances,” St. Joseph-Metuchen coach Ryan Carter said. “We readjusted some of our lines due to illness and guys found some jump from the moves. Borek utilized his speed to the outside which opened us up for a lot of opportunities.”
Paul VI pulled Kane in favor of an extra attacker, but Matt Pliszak found an empty net with 10 seconds remaining in regulation to cap the scoring. Dean Ponik drew an assist on the empty-netter.
“We had a rough first-period against Morristown-Beard,” Borek said. “It’s tough to come back after a tough (7-3) loss like that, but we came back and played hard and put on a good show. It was a big comeback win for us.”
Borisov echoed his teammates’ sentiments.
“To bounce back, get the win and keep it going — it’s a happy moment for us,” Borisov said. “We know we’re going to see more and more better teams looking ahead this season. We lost to Gloucester Catholic in the second round of the (NJSIAA Non-Public) state finals last year — we want to go further this year and we want to win the Egan and GMC Cup — that’s our goal this year.”
Despite the setback, Miller liked the start he saw from Paul VI.
“Very encouraged by the way we came out to start tonight’s game,” Miller said. “After the last two games we played, we needed to tighten up defensively and I think we made some positive strides towards where we want to be in that regard. Effort was the best of the season, just a couple of minor lapses at times in the third that led to the third and fourth goal.”
Paul VI is back in action against St. John Vianney on Dec. 20, while St. Joseph will travel to Lawrenceville to take on Notre Dame on Dec. 23.
“Our defense played solid, we rolled six all game and Nick Adams gave us a great opportunity to win,” Carter added. “It was a good bounce back after last night’s loss to Morristown-Beard. One thing we keep preaching to the kids is to have an answer.”
1-0 SJ Mark Borek (Joe Morrello) 11:29-1st
2-0 SJ Chris Cicarello (unassisted) 1:23-1st
3-0 SJ Ivan Borisov (Jason Pliszak, Matt Samarelli) 12:51-3rd PPG
3-1 P Bradley Guetens (Eddie Lutz) 11:13-3rd
4-1 SJ Mark Borek (Joe Morrello, Sam Welsh) 9:31-3rd
5-1 SJ Matt Pliszak (Dean Ponik) :10-3rd ENG
Written by John Christian Hageny @JCCSPORTS
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