By Ella Brockway - Shore Sports Network contributor

*Photo gallery by Ray Richardson*

SEA GIRT – For Manasquan, Saturday’s match-up against rival Wall would be a benchmark for the rest of the season.

After 48 minutes of hard, fast-paced play, the host Warriors ended up with the outcome they wanted in a 12-6 victory over the Crimson Knights (8-2, 3-1). With the win, Manasquan (9-2, 4-0), ranked No. 5 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, all but mathematically claimed the Class B South title. The Warriors also defeated their long-time rival for the first time since 2010.

Sophomore attackman Jarrett Birch pumped in six goals to help Manasquan knock off Wall for a big Class B South win. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

“I thought we came out and played well in a high-energy game against our rival,” said first-year head coach Sean Cunningham. “We came out, and we took care of business right from the first quarter.”

Sophomore attackman Jarrett Birch put on a show against the Wall defense, scoring six goals, one of which came with one second left in the first half. Birch again has led the Warriors offensively after finishing with 25 goals and 40 points last season as a freshman.

Two of his six goals came off of his power shot, where he uses an underhand motion similar to a slap-shot in hockey to finish low and deliver the ball to the back of the net.
Birch’s fellow sophomore attackman John Moran also had a high-scoring game, with all of his three goals coming in the second half to help secure the win.

After an explosive second quarter with three goals from Birch and one each from sophomores Joe Tonkovich and Pat Feldstedt, Manasquan took a 5-1 lead at the half. Wall’s lone goal came from senior midfielder Liam Ferguson, who also had an assist later in the game.

Manasquan all but officially wrapped up the Class B South title with the win over Wall. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

The Crimson Knights came out strong after halftime, scoring four goals in less than five minutes to start the third quarter.

Two of Wall’s goals came from attackman Michael McIntyre, whose now has 27 as a freshman. McIntyre, who ranks second on the team in total points and ground balls, was kept quiet for the majority of the game by the strong Warrior defense.

Sophomore Thomas Jenkins added two more goals to cut Manasquan's lead to 6-5 midway through the third quarter. After that score, with 6:23 left in the third, Cunningham decided to call a timeout to calm his team down and restore the focus in his players’ minds.

“When you come out and play against your rival, Wall or whoever it is, you want to come out fired up and not let those nerves get to you,” said Cunningham. “[After that] they settled down and were able to get those four goals in.”

A defensive stop from sophomore Kyle LeBlanc and senior Florida Southern commit Conor Gleason led to a strong, three-minute possession from the Warriors that resulted in a Feldstedt goal to stretch the lead to two. Three more goals came before the end of the third quarter, with one from Moran and two from Birch.

“In that third quarter,” said Cunningham, “they just started believing in themselves and calmed down a bit.”

Birch and Moran each scored once more to close the game in the fourth quarter, while Wall moved its total up to six on the day with a goal at the 11:25 mark from senior midfielder Dylan Bosco.

The goalies from the two teams each finished with double-digit saves. Wall's Zachary Harrell had 11, and Manasquan’s Tom Pollock, who has been strong in the net for the Warriors since taking over the starting job last year as a freshman, finished with 12.

The win for Manasquan not only unofficially clinched the B South title, but also took down Wall’s undefeated record in division play. The Warriors sit alone at the top of Class B South now, with four games left in the regular season, and East Brunswick as their next opponent on April 28.

The Knights move down to second place in the B South, with an away game at St. John Vianney on Monday next on the schedule.

BOX SCORE

No. 7 Manasquan 12, Wall Township 6

Manasquan (9-2, 4-0) 0 5 5 2 – 12
Wall Township (8-2, 3-1) 1 0 4 1 – 6

GOALS – M: Jarrett Birch 6, John Moran 3, Pat Feldstedt 2, Joe Tonkovich W: Thomas Jenkins 2, Michael McIntyre 2, Dylan Bosco, Liam Ferguson

ASSISTS – M: Pat Feldstedt 2, John Moran, Tom Pollock W: Liam Ferguson, Timothy O’Hern

SAVES – M: Tom Pollock 10 W: Zachary Harrell 11

SHOTS – Manasquan 33-18