For most of the third quarter, it was raining so hard, some players had trouble seeing in front of them,
Bryce Reece shrugged it off.
“You can’t think about it,” said Reece, who generated two goals and an assist in the third, the highest-volume period of top-seeded Lenape’s 10-0 win over No. 8 Eastern Saturday morning in the second round of South Jersey Group 4 playoffs.
“Rain is tough to play in. But you can’t let it get to you. We have to focus on what we can control,” Reece added.
In these conditions, he said, it’s important to lean on fundamentals, deliberate movements, and, crucially, trust in your teammates.
The latter is the defining trait of this year’s Indians. Lenape is arguably the most well-balanced team in South Jersey. And so it makes sense that in a persistent, driving rain, the Indians looked smooth and brushed aside a strong divisional rival in a road game that was supposed to be home, but was switched to Eastern with Lenape’s field under water.
“For a second-round game, this isn’t a matchup we liked on paper. Eastern’s a great program and we battle them every year,” said Lenape coach Bull Sutphin, whose Indians beat the Vikings twice during the regular season. “We told our guys to play under control, go out there and do their jobs and hopefully the score takes care of itself. And it did today.”
Reece and Drew Bregman led Lenape’s offense with three goals each.
Lenape (17-2) held possession for the vast majority of the game and outshot Eastern, 35-8. When the Vikings (9-9) did gain possession, they literally couldn’t gain traction on the wet turf, and were repeatedly overpowered, man-to-man, by a Lenape defense that simply looked bigger and stronger.
“Lenape is stacked this year, they have depth at a lot of positions,” said Vikings coach Steve Picot. “The only thing I can do is credit our guys for fighting — which we did today.”
The Indians were without star attack Matt Ingersoll, who missed most of this season with a thumb injury. He sat out Saturday as a precaution, and Sutphin said he expects him back for the Indians’ next game, at home against No. 4 Monroe on Wednesday.
In his absence, against a zone defense, Lenape took the opportunity to again flaunt how deep and talented its offense is.
“A lot of teams rely on one or two guys,” said Reece, who leads the Indians with 33 goals on the season. “What’s great about our team … is that you have a lot of guys who are just threats. We have a lot of threats and we all just click together really well. We talk after every mistake we make — we know that’s how we improve.”
After winning its first 15 games, Lenape lost its final two of the regular season — albeit to elite programs in Shawnee and St. Augustine. The experience, Reece said, was something of a blessing in disguise.
“It was definitely a chance for us to reflect and to build even more,” he said. “We had some great practices after that, some great talks, and since then, offensively, we’ve been more focused on valuing the ball and generating better shots.
“We just have to keep trusting each other. Because when we put everything together, we’re a pretty scary team.”
Eastern 0 0 0 0 — 0
Lenape 1 3 5 1 — 10
Goals: Sean Kennedy, Drew Bregman 3, Bryce Reece 3, Brady Long, Mason Bregman, Hunter Lippincott
Saves: L- Rob Pensabene 6; E- AJ Macklin 7.