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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of the spring season of New Jersey high school sports, dealing a crushing blow to everyone in the athletic community. No group has been hit harder than the athletes, especially seniors who were getting ready to enjoy their final season as a high school athlete.

All athletes were robbed of something, but there is a subset of players who will not get to partake in what was going to be their breakout season. For some seniors, the 2020 season was set to be the exclamation point of their career, a season where they finally put it all together to become one of the Shore Conference’s best. For others, this was going to be the year they finally got their chance to shine after being stuck behind superstars.

The best of the best in the Shore Conference are well known, and we’ve highlighted them in varying capacity throughout the spring. This time, we wanted to find out which boys lacrosse seniors were set to break out, so we reached out to each Shore Conference head coach to get their input. Over the next week, we’ll be featuring those players.

The feature will be broken down by division, which there are four of for boys lacrosse in the Shore Conference. We begin today with Class A North.

 

BREAKOUT SENIORS

CLASS A NORTH 

 

CHRISTIAN BROTHERS ACADEMY

CBA had a great defense corps in 2019 with two-time first-team All-Shore selection Tommy Gray along with Tim Murray and Max D’Andrea. Playing limited roles were juniors Declan McGagh, Dillon Quinn and Nick Liberatore, and those three were expected to step into full-time starting roles this season and flourish. Longtime head coach Dave Santos said he anticipated the trio to be the core and strength of this year’s team. All three were named captains. 

Declan McGagh, defenseman: “A strong, physical, lock-down close defender who was overshadowed by Tommy Gray last year. He is very talented.” 

Dillon Quinn, defenseman: “Dillon can play both defense and long-stick midfield and is outstanding in transition. He can get forward and score, as well.

Nick Liberatore, defenseman: “Nick is a terrific LSM with a lot of versatility. He does a lot of the little things that help a team win.”

 

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP 

Joel Maragato, defenseman: Maragato was going to be Freehold Township’s No. 1 defenseman this season. Head coach Ryan Eichner said he believed he could have been the next All-Shore defenseman for the Patriots. Maragato will continue his lacrosse career at Elizabethtown College. 

Jake Liebross, attackman: Liebross’ first sport is ice hockey and the 2019 season was his first season of varsity lacrosse. He started coming into his own toward the end of the last season and finished with 27 goals and 14 assists. He had the potential to be an all-division player, Eichner said, which is no small feat in Class A North. 

Connor Petrula, defenseman: A big, physical defender, Petrula went from being a football player who played lacrosse in the spring to making lacrosse his No. 1 sport. He was slated to be Freehold Township’s No. 2 defenseman. He played club lacrosse for the first time this offseason and that ended up producing several college scholarship offers. He decided to go to community college and will play for Mercer County Community College in the fall.

Billy Sebor, midfielder: Eichner highlighted Sebor as the Patriots’ most under-the-radar who had the potential to have a huge year. Sebor saw time as a defensive middie as a sophomore and was set to be a starting midfielder as a junior before a broken collarbone suffered in a scrimmage ended his season. He is the third Sebor to play lacrosse for Freehold Township. “He is a tremendous athlete and had a chance to be a stud midfielder for us,” Eichner said. 

Evan Savino, defensive midfielder: A three-sport athlete who also plays soccer and wrestles for the Patriots, Savino got better and better throughout his junior year as a versatile perimeter defender. By the end of the year, he could be deployed against the oppositions’ top offensive threats. Eichner expected Savino to be among the Shore’s best defensive middies.

Brendan Doel, attackman: Doel was a third-team All-Shore selection last year so he really isn’t a breakout player, but he had the chance to be a first-team All-Shore attackman as a senior. He scored 32 goals with 27 assists last season, and with 61 goals and 56 assists for his career, he had a realistic chance to reach the 200-point milestone this season. Doel will join Maragato in continuing his career at Elizabethtown College.

  

HOWELL

Logan Dennison, attackman: Dennison is a four-year varsity player who was geared up to have a huge senior season. He played in the midfield as a freshman before moving to attack as a sophomore where he started for two years. He likely would have finished his career in the top three in assists at Howell. He was set to quarterback a young Howell offense that only had one other senior starter, face-off ace/midfielder Vaughn Meehan. He tallied 15 goals and 33 assists last season.

“Logan will never get the accolades and honors he deserves but I truly think he is one of the best players to come through our program,” said Howell head coach Anthony Bonjavanni. “Every one of his teammates knew this was his breakout year. They looked to him to lead the way. His is exceptional at seeing the field and playing with both hands, and is a relentless rider.”

 

MIDDLETOWN NORTH 

Pete Abbes, attackman: A 40-goal scorer and second-team All-Class A North selection last season, Abbes was on pace to smash Middletown North’s records for career goals and points. He was also on pace to become the first player in program history to reach 200 career points. Abbes will continue his career at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University 

Brayden Gazette, midfielder: Gazette had a solid year on the attack line last year with 23 goals and 12 assists and was going to be moved to the midfield as a senior. Head coach Jason Pino noted Gazette’s “motor, size and ability from the restraining line” as impetus for the position change. “He was having the strongest preseason of anyone on the team and was on pace for 100 career points by the end of the year,” Pino said. Gazette will attend the University of Miami and is considering playing on the school’s club lacrosse team.

Zach Fleming, attackman: Fleming was moved from midfield to attack last season and asked to play a less glamorous role in the offense. “He showed a lot of promise and willingness to be that guy early on. He was just super-coachable and selfless,” Pino said. Fleming will be attending High Point University and will play club lacrosse.

  

MIDDLETOWN SOUTH 

Shane Murphy, goalie: Murphy was solid last season for a Middletown South team that finished ranked No. 8 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10. Former Holmdel head coach Sal Guastella took over as the Eagles head coach this season and was immediately impressed with Murphy’s abilities between the pipes.

“Shane was in incredible shape, super prepared and his focus was laser-tuned,” Guastella said. “I believe he was ready to have an incredible year as a goalie. He was seeing the ball well and difficult to score on in all drills and scrimmage situations. He was throwing the ball about as well as I have ever seen a high school goalie throw it. His attitude and attention to detail were second to none and I believe he would have had one of the best save percentages in the conference and the state.”

 

 

 

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.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.