Glory Days: 2005 Randolph High School Boys Lacrosse

Photos courtesy of Josh Wolfson

By: Steve Sears

Celebrating the state title win over West Morris Central

They were a true Cinderella team, a wonderful mix of seniors, juniors, and sophomores – and a .500 team – that made an improbable run in the 2005 Group III state lacrosse playoffs, ultimately capturing the crown.

All the games the Randolph Rams won were against higher seeded clubs and on the road, including a huge upset over the state’s #1 ranked team, the Ridgewood Maroons, in the semifinals.

John Lade was a sophomore defenseman. “There was definitely a good chemistry,” he says. “There wasn’t a disconnect between the seniors, sophomores, and the juniors. There was a good flow. The coaches knew the chemistry of the team very well. They knew what buttons to push and who to push. It was a good group to be around.”

“That lacrosse team was the tightest that I have associated with any team,” then-head coach, Bill Scanlon, says. “They were brothers. They were students of the game.”

Current head coach, John Naslonski, was back then assistant coach and defensive coordinator. “We played in the state championships each year. In 2006 and 2007 we lost, but in 2005 we won. The ’06 and ’07 were more talented teams, but the ’05 team – just the grit and determination that those kids had, it was just remarkable. The 2005 guys didn’t take a play off. They lost some games early in the year, went on a great run at the end, but even when they lost, they were tough to deal with.”

“They did not like to lose.”

Midfielder Josh Wolfson adds, “We probably barely made it into the state playoffs by the skin of our teeth. We didn’t go anywhere in the county tournament, but once we got to the playoffs, something clicked. That group of guys, they were probably the best that I’ve seen probably even past my college lacrosse career.”

The Rams first defeated #12 Vernon, 17 -6, and then #4 Don Bosco, 13 -5, setting up an encounter with powerhouse Ridgewood. “We started the second half,” Scanlon recalls, “and it was a close score. But all of a sudden, we looked up and it was 7 – 4, Ridgewood. I looked at Nas (Naslonski) and said, “I think the bottom’s falling out.” The Rams, however, were fighters. “Well, not too many minutes later, it’s 7 – 7.”

Ridgewood would go ahead again, 9 -7, but goals from Alex Decker and Corey Lindell knotted the score, and a Mike Grover goal with just over a minute to play completed his hat trick and sealed the 10 – 9 shocker.

“I recall the Ridgewood game being a really exciting upset — they were a traditional powerhouse, while we were relatively under the radar — so that win gave us huge momentum heading into the Group III finals vs. West Morris,” Grover says. “17 years later I’m a bit fuzzy on the details of my hat trick, but I recall Les Wade and Corey Zindel unselfishly assisting me on a couple of the goals.”

Sophomore goalie, Mike Horowitz, had 12 saves in the game. “He stepped up and particularly in that Ridgewood game,” Wolfson remembers. “He was a key part of that; he was making some unbelievable stops.”

Playing Ridgewood, we were playing with house money,” Horowitz says. “They were #1, so we really had no expectations in that game. The game against Ridgewood is more memorable than the state championship because it was totally unexpected.”

The state title game pitted the Rams against the West Morris Central Wolfpack, who they had defeated in the regular season for the first time ever. The 8 – 6 victory on June 4, 2005 won the championship and concluded an improbable state playoff run.

Kyle McGrath was a midfielder with Wolfson on the 2005 squad. “I think that was what was so cool about our team. We weren’t like Chatham and Madison. We weren’t the blueblood program. We were like a little bit of misfits and athletes. Everybody kind of looked at us and we’re like, ‘Huh?’ And then they said, ‘Wow! These guys – they can play!’ We earned so much respect that year, and we just had fun while we were doing it.”

If he could, Lade would relive 2005 in a heartbeat. “Absolutely. That season was such a special one. It just was kind of like a breakthrough for Randolph lacrosse.”

 

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