CBA’s Casner, Holmdel’s Cook Lead North All-Stars to Victory in SCLCA Senior All-Star Game
TOMS RIVER -- Four years ago Nick Casner dealt with the disappointment of not playing in the Shore Conference Lacrosse Coaches Association youth all-star game. On Thursday he got his chance as a high school senior and delivered another excellent performance to lead his team to victory.
Casner scored three goals and also had two assists to earn the United States Navy MVP award as the North All-Stars won 14-9 over the South All-Stars in the 2017 SCLCA Senior All-Star Game at Toms River North's Gernard Field. Holmdel face-off ace Jack Cook closed out a dominant career with another near-flawless performance while Ocean's Sam Hanna and the Rumson trio of Bryan Hess, Charlie Curran and Colin Pavluk each scored twice.
Manasquan's Jarrett Birch and Devan Carroll, and Southern's Kyle Mulrane each scored twice for the South squad.
"It felt awesome," said Casner. "These four years went by so fast. I remember being upset when I was in eighth grade and didn't get picked for this game, so that's kind of funny. Overall it's almost overwhelming. I'm going to college in three months so it's just awesome to play with all these guys one last time."
Casner will play at Division I Siena next season and leaves CBA as one if its all-time leading scorers, finishing third with 272 career points.
The North all-stars had a major possession advantage with one of the state's best face-off midfielders at the helm. Cook won 22 of 25 draws to cap a season where he won an astonishing 85 percent of face-offs and picked up 226 ground balls, which was second best in New Jersey.
"This offseason I worked really hard to get better," Cook said. "Last year I felt I was a little shaky with the ball sometimes so I tried to be smarter and watch where my wings are. I really take a lot of pride in my face-offs."
It was borderline unfair with Cook at face-off X given the offensive talent the North squad had. It made things even more challenging for the South given the wings were standout LSMs Shawn Poole from Freehold Township and Ean Delehanty from Shore.
"They were definitely a huge help," Cook said. "If I went to pull it out and got checked they were always right there to pick it up."
Cook will play at Division I Mount St. Mary's next season.
"I'm very excited. Hopefully I can start as a freshman and do some great things down there," Cook said.
The North all-stars jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the first quarter as Hanna, Howell's Drew Bukowiec, Pavluk, Hess and Rumson's Oliver Heins each scored. Carroll and Birch sank goals for the South all-stars. Casner and Hess tallied in the second quarter while Birch, Mulrane and St. Rose's Chris Bormida scored for the South to make it 8-5 at halftime.
In the third quarter it was Casner scoring early off a feed from Rumson's Alex Werner to put the North up by four. Werner finished with a game-high three assists.
Consecutive goals by Carroll and Mulrane cut the South's deficit to 9-7, but that was as close as they would get. Delahanty scored off a feed from Freehold Township's Drew Dunn and Werner set up Curran shortly after to make it 11-7. Donovan Catholic's Pete Schlendorf tallied to put the score at 11-8 entering the fourth quarter.
Brick Memorial's Mike Mowder scored early in the fourth to again trim the North's lead to two goals, but Casner, Pavluk and Curran each scored to put the game away and give the North another victory.
Casner and Howell's Nico Lorenzo tied for the win in the fastest shot contest.
In the youth all-star game that preceded the senior game, the North all-stars dominated with an 11-3 victory. Kyle Aldridge, an eighth-grader from St. Leo the Great School in Middletown, won the MVP with three goals and one assist and also won the fastest shot contest. He will head to CBA next season.
"It was fun. You don't see some of these kids all year so it was fun to get out and play with different kids," Aldridge said. "I can't wait to get (to CBA) next year and start playing with them. I'm excited for the next level."
Caleb Pallo also scored three times and Mike DeRosa, who will also attend CBA, scored twice.
North All-Stars 14, South All-Stars 9
North 6 2 3 3 - 14
South 2 3 3 1 - 9
GOALS -- N: Nick Casner 3, Sam Hanna 2, Bryan Hess 2, Charlie Curran 2, Colin Pavluk 2, Drew Bukowiec, Oliver Heins, Ean Delehanty; S: Jarrett Birch 2, Devan Carroll 2, Kyle Mulrane 2, Chris Bormida, Pete Schlendorf, Mike Mowder.
ASSISTS -- N: Alex Werner 3, Nick Casner 2, Drew Bukowiec, Drew Dunn, Mike Ferdinandi; S: Jarrett Birch, Ben Cagno, Mike Mowder, Andrew Lombardi.
SAVES -- N: Conor Deverin 6, Ryan McGuiness 3; S: Tristan Farina 8, Tom Pollock 6.
SHOTS: North 40, South 29.
Managing 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.