2023 NJSIAA Boys Lacrosse Group 1 Championship Preview: Rumson-Fair Haven vs. Mountain Lakes
NJSIAA BOYS LACROSSE GROUP 1 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
WHO: Rumson-Fair Haven (20-4) vs. Mountain Lakes (16-5)
WHEN: Friday, June 9, 4 p.m.
WHERE: John Basilone Memorial Field at Bridgewater-Raritan High School
RUMSON'S ROAD TO THE STATE FINAL: defeated Rutherford, 17-3, in the first round; defeated Lower Cape May, 18-1, in the quarterfinals; defeated Haddonfield, 14-4, in the semifinals; defeated Bernards, 12-7, in the South Group 1 sectional final.
MOUNTAIN LAKES' ROAD TO THE STATE FINAL: Defeated Boonton, 19-5, in the first round; defeated Lenape Valley, 13-2, in the quarterfinals; defeated Glen Rock, 6-4, in the semifinals; defeated Caldwell, 10-3, in the North Group 1 sectional final.
RUMSON'S CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: Two state titles (2015, 2022), sixth state finals appearance.
MOUNTAIN LAKES' CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: 16 state titles (2004, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020); overall state champs in 1988, 1989, 1993, 1995, and 1996).
RUMSON'S BEST WINS: 13-3 and 14-4 over Haddonfield; 10-9 over St. Augustine; 10-7 over Bridgewater-Raritan; 16-4 over Ocean City; 15-3 over Red Bank; 17-5 over Holmdel; 12-2 and 16-5 over Shore Regional; 15-4 over Christian Brothers Academy; 10-5 over Manasquan; 12-7 over Bernards.
MOUNTAIN LAKES' BEST WINS: 11-7 over Bergen Catholic; 10-7 over Randolph; 7-5 over Chatham; 13-5 over Pope John; 7-5 over Manasquan; 10-3 over Caldwell;
RUMSON'S STAT LEADERS/KEY PLAYERS
-Cole Cashion, Sr., Att: 75g, 27a
-Luke Lydon, Fr., Att: 34g, 10a
-Grayson Goldin, So., Att: 23g, 10a
-Andy Croddick, Jr., Mid: 37g, 7a
-Leo Passalaqua, Jr., Mid: 18g, 8a
-Vincent Raphalian, So., Mid: 17g, 5a
-Zach Iwan, Sr., Mid: 14g, 3a
-Luke Marascio, Jr., FOGO: 65% win percentage, 85 ground balls
-Beau Kemler, Sr., Def: 9g, 3a
-Luke Jamin, Sr., Def: 1g, 2a
-Troy Monte, Jr., Def: 1g
-Brody Page, Jr., Def: 7g, 3a
-Marshall Halfacre, Sr., Goalie: 86 saves, 64% save percentage
-Will Settecuate, Sr., Goalie (injured): 67 saves, 56% save percentage
-Bryce Devlin, Sr., Att: 10g, 7a
-Matthew Casazza, Jr., Att: 6g, 4a
-Frank Argilagos, So., Def: 1g
MOUNTAIN LAKES' STAT LEADERS/KEY PLAYERS
-Kevin Gillespie, Sr., Att: 36g, 32a
-Giacomo Gevacqua, Jr., Att: 44g, 14a
-Nick Fidacaro, Sr., Att: 27g, 23a
-Justin Brennfleck, Jr., Mid: 20g, 17a
-Jimmy Elliot, Sr., Mid: 20g, 14a)
-Merric Martorana, So., Mid: 15g, 9a
-Jordan Hernando, Jr., FOGO: 70% win percentage
-Gavin Ananian, Sr., Def
-Nate Holliday, Sr,., Def:
-Aidan Malnati, Jr., LSM
-Milo Penniston, So,., Def
-Matt Sentowski, Sr., Goalie: 66% save percentage
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Once Rumson's underclassmen regrouped after last season's Tournament of Champions final defeat at the hands of Mountain Lakes, the Bulldogs eyed redemption. When the group classifications were released and both teams were aligned in Group 1, Rumson knew it would likely get another crack at the Lakers.
That moment has arrived.
Two lacrosse juggernauts will meet at Basilone Memorial Field in Bridgewater when Rumson and Mountain Lakes collided for the Group 1 state championship on Friday afternoon. The Lakers scored a resounding 21-5 victory over Rumson in last season's T.O.C., the final such tournament under the NJSIAA's oversight. One champion will still be crowned thanks to the grassroots organization of the inaugural Kirst Cup, and Rumson is itching to get back to the tournament between the six group champions.
Mountain Lakes has an incredibly rich lacrosse tradition with 16 total state titles and one of the nation's high school legends in Tim Flynn. The Lakers enter the game ranked No. 12 in the state by NJ.com and locked up another sectional title with a 10-3 victory over No. 19 Caldwell. Rumson enters with the No. 4 ranking, the highest among public schools, and rolled to a 12-7 victory over Bernards to secure their third straight and sixth sectional title overall.
Rumson is a balanced team from the attack line to the defenders, but the Bulldogs certainly have their leaders. Senior attackman Cole Cashion is their leading scoring and one of the most dynamic players in the state. He can beat defenses in a variety of ways and if the opposition attempts to take him away, there are several great scoring options around him with the sharpshooting junior middie Andy Croddck, attackman Luke Lydon and Grayson Goldin, and midfielders Leo Passalaqua, Vincent Raphalian, and Zach Iwan.
Even with all that talent in the offensive end, Rumson's strongest unit could be its defense. The program has flexed its tremendous depth this season after season-ending injuries to all-state LSM Matthew Bockelmann and returning starter Will Rehder pressed juniors Brody Page and Troy Monte into action. Those two have melded seamlessly with seniors Beau Kemler and Luke Jamin to form a unit that has yielded just 4.4 goals per game. Senior goalie Marshall Halfacre began the season as the No. 2 behind returning starter Will Setteducate but an injury just past the midway point of the season thrust Halfacre into the starting role. He has responded with consistent play to the tune of 86 saves and a 68% save percentage.
Another huge factor in Rumson's success has been the face-off work of junior Luke Marascio, who has won 65 percent of draws and picked up 85 ground balls. The Bulldogs continue to churn out All-Shore level FOGOs and Marascio has seized the opportunity as a junior. Rumson will need a big game from him and the entire face-off unit against Mountain Lakes junior standout Jordan Hernando. He won 17 of 18 face-offs in last season's T.O.C. final to help spark the Lakers' scoring surge and has won draws at a 70% clip this season.
Kevin Gillespie and Giacomo Bevacqua lead a Mountain Lakes offense that has five players with at least 20 goals. Junior goalie Matt Sentowski has taken over as the starter this season and backstops a unit led by senior poles Gavin Ananian and Nate Holliday.
There are a lot of layers to this game and it will be fascinating to see how it plays out. Flynn is New Jersey's all-time wins leader and Rumson head coach Marc Moreau is also one of the state's best lacrosse coaches. Their teams will be ready, no question. Which team executes the best remains to be seen.