Boys Lacrosse – No. 5 CBA Storms Past No. 7 Freehold Township to Clinch Class A North Division Title
FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP -- Christian Brothers Academy came into Thursday's game against Freehold Township with a championship on the line, a chance for revenge and the goal of finding its groove ahead of the postseason.
The Colts put a check mark in each and every box.
In its best effort of the season, CBA toppled the rival Patriots, 14-4, in a Shore Conference Class A North game to clinch the division title. Junior attackman Nick Casner had three goals and five assists and senior attackman Shay Walczak added three goals and three assists as the Colts (9-5, 7-0) jumped on Freehold Township (9-4, 6-2) early and never looked back.
Last season the Colts shared the division title with Howell and Freehold Township. In the Shore Conference Tournament, Freehold Township eliminated CBA in overtime in the quarterfinals. Albeit against top competition, CBA entered Thursday with an 8-5 record.
"This was probably the first complete game we've played from start from finish," said CBA head coach Dave Santos. "We made very few mistakes, we finished our opportunities and we were really organized defensively. Right from the opening whistle they came to play. That hasn't been the case all the time this year. We've been very inconsistent, but we put it all together today, so it was fun to watch."
"Since I've been here the first couple years winning A North was a foregone conclusion," said senior midfielder John Salcedo. "Last year we ran into a good Howell team and a good Freehold team that beat us in the Shore Conference Tournament. Today was about getting back on track. We step into the season and we want to win the division title first and go from there. Now we're looking to make a run at the Shore Conference Tournament and made a run in the sectional and group states."
Freshman attackman Connor Macrae and junior midfielder Ryan Madalone each had two goals and one assist, while senior attackman Cologialo Muscara and Salcedo each had one goal and one assist. Senior midfielder Shane McGuiness and sophomore attackman Robbie Hermansen each scored once.
Senior defenseman Gordon Paul had double-digit ground balls to anchor the defense, while junior goalie Ryan McGuiness made seven saves.
"This was one of our goals," Casner said. "We definitely want to win the Shore Conference this year, but this is big for us. I felt like we were the underdog a little this year. We always return good players and we're CBA, we're good, but I think a lot of teams thought they could come out and beat up on us. This game showed we're not messing around. We really want to win the conference."
CBA's offense was on point from the start with crisp passes and great ball movement. Twelve of the Colts' 14 goals were assisted, and many came with finishes after precision passing plays.
"We're the best when we move the ball around and keep the ball hot," Casner said. "That's what's going to win the game. It's everyone touching the ball. We gotta look for that hockey assist."
"We're trying to preach patience and smart passing and smart cutting," Salcedo said. "Early in the season we played a few tough games - a very good Rumson team and a very good Manasquan team and a tough St. Joe's Metuchen team - against some teams that have very good defenses. I think we came into it a little bit trying to play one-on-one and beat one, two, three guys, and that's not the formula for success."
"We have many talented kids, and when we're able to move it around and keep it hot we're at our best. I heard Casner talking about the hockey assist and that's what we're looking for. It's great when you can fill the stat sheet with goals but when you're the guy setting up that play that's the real star. We want players who are going to be unselfish and make the right play."
Salcedo got the scoring started when he struck off a feed from Madalone at 9:21 of the first quarter. Chris Novella scored for Freehold Township on a goal set up by Mike Colicchia one minute later to even the score at one, but it was all CBA from there.
The Colts scored three times in the final four minutes of the first quarter to take a 4-1 lead. Casner fed Muscara at 3:55 to give CBA the lead for good before Walczak set up Madalone at 1:55 to make it 3-1. Chris Hayes won the ensuing face-off, which quickly led to Walczak scoring off a pass from Muscara.
The lead grew to 5-1 early in the second quarter when Casner took a pass from Walczak and found the back of the net. Casner then assisted on back-to-back goals by Macrae to make it 7-1, then fed Walczak with 52 seconds left in the half to make it 8-1 at the break.
"We are definitely getting better each game on offense," Santos said. "They're getting more familiar with each each other and knowing where the extra pass needs to go and things like that. All three (attackmen) that were out there today, Colo, Shay and Cas, played together last year, so the familiarity helps a little bit."
With standout sophomore attackman Michael Carroll out with an injury, Muscara and Macrae split time filling his spot on the attack line. Both played well with a combined three goals and two assists.
"Colo has been running middie for us, but when Mike went down we plugged him in at attack, which is his natural position," Santos said. "He split time today with the freshman, Connor Macrae, and they were both outstanding. They are different players. Colo can create and dodge and is great on ground balls. He's scrappy. Connor is a fabulous finisher on the crease, so they both bring a different element. You have one guy playing one quarter and the other guy playing the other and it throws a change up at the defense."
Madalone scored unassisted and Casner tallied off a pass from Salcedo midway through the third quarter to extend CBA's lead to 10-1. Mike Ferdinandi and Colicchia scored unassisted goals for Freehold Township to trim the Patriots' deficit to 10-3, but Casner responded off a great pass from Walczak to make it 11-3 heading to the fourth quarter.
Walczak, McGuiness and Hermansen sank goals in the fourth quarter to make it 14-3 before Ferdinandi scored with 16 seconds left to provide the final margin. Freehold Township had won six in a row coming into Thursday, but the Colts stopped that streak cold to win a championship.
CBA was seeded fourth for the Shore Conference Tournament behind No. 1 Rumson-Fair Haven, No. 2 Manasquan and the defending champion, No. 3 Southern. Rumson and Manasquan are the only Shore Conference teams to defeat the Colts this year. CBA will host St. John Vianney on Saturday in the first round of the SCT.
"Playing against a good and talented Freehold team that was red hot as of late, we knew we had to come out and play aggressive and play sharp, and that's something we did today," Salcedo said. "Obviously we came in with a fire underneath us having lost to Freehold last year after we beat them the first time, so we had to take care of business. They have a good coach (Ryan Eichner) and we respect their program. We've played them tough for years, so we're glad to come out of here with a win going into Saturday."
No. 5 CBA 14, No. 7 Freehold Township 4
CBA (9-5, 7-0) 4 4 3 3 -- 14
Freehold Twp. (9-4, 6-2) 1 0 2 1 -- 4
GOALS -- CBA: Nick Casner 3, Shaw Walczak 3, Ryan Madalone 2, Connor Macrae 2, John Salcedo, Cologialo Muscara, Shane McGuiness, Robbie Hermansen; FT: Mike Ferdinandi 2, Mike Colicchia, Drew Dunn
ASSISTS -- CBA: Nick Casner 5, Shay Walczak 3, Ryan Madalone, Connor Macrae, Cologialo Muscara, John Salcedo; FT: Mike Colicchia, Mike Martino.
SAVES -- CBA: Ryan McGuiness 7;
Lacrosse editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.