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After a canceled 2020 lacrosse season, the Shore Conference returned with a flourish in 2021.

This season will go down as the most successful boys lacrosse campaign in Shore Conference history thanks to a great postseason. The Shore had three teams win NJSIAA sectional titles for the first time, but it wasn’t just the juggernauts who lifted the conference. A total of 14 Shore teams won first-round games in the NJSIAA Tournament, which is the most I can ever remember advancing to the quarterfinals.

It was also the first time four Shore Conference teams reached the sectional final round. Manasquan emerged as the South Group 1 champion, Southern won the South Group 4 title and Rumson-Fair Haven topped Wall in the South Group 2 final.

Finally, four Shore Conference teams finished ranked in NJ.com’s state top 20 with Rumson coming in at No. 5, Manasquan at No. 12, Wall at No. 14 and CBA at No. 16.

The team at the top of the final Shore Sports Network/Elite Sports Physical Therapy Top 10 should come as no surprise. Rumson-Fair Haven started the season by defeating eventual Group 3 champion Chatham and never took its foot off the gas pedal, ripping off 20 wins in a row to win another Shore Conference Tournament title, claim a sectional title and reach the Group 3 final.

 

1. Rumson-Fair Haven (20-1)

It was a special season on Ridge Road as the Bulldogs rolled to the Class B North division title, won their seventh Shore Conference Tournament title, their fifth NJSIAA state sectional crown and finished with the most wins of any team in New Jersey.

Rumson’s lone loss came to eventual Tournament of Champions runner-up Summit via a 9-6 defeat in the Group 2 state final. RFH stormed out of the gates with state-ranked wins over Chatham and Bergen Catholic and then another against St. Augustine, forcing New Jersey to take notice. Rumson also defeated Ridge, Manasquan and Wall (twice) for a total of seven wins over teams that either finished in the top 20 or were ranked at the time of the game. Rumson defeated Wall in the SCT semifinals and then bested Manasquan, 11-4, to win the SCT title. The Bulldogs defeated Wall a second time, this time by a razor-thin 8-7 margin in the South Group 2 sectional final.

Rumson had a dangerous and balanced offense led by senior midfielder and Middlebury signee Patrick Jamin (50g, 44a), senior attackman Luke Devlin (58g, 23a) and junior attackman and Yale commit Christian Bockelmann (47g, 22a), plus sophomore attackman Cole Cashion (35g, 19a). Its defense was outstanding and it started in goal with senior Ryan Croddick, who had a sparkling save percentage of 64 percent and made clutch saves in many big moments. Senior Jack Joyce teamed with sophomore poles Beau Kemler, Matthew Bockelmann, and Luke Jamin along with senior defensive midfielder Josh Harmon to create a formidable unit that allowed just 3.6 goals per game. Rumson had another weapon at the face-off X with senior Tommy Swain, who won at a 72 percent clip.

Great players like Devlin, Jamin, Croddick, Joyce and Swain matriculate out of the program but the Bulldogs are loaded with talent and should be a force once again in 2022.

 

2. Manasquan (17-4)

Manasquan faced a Herculean task entering this season as it tried to move on from some all-time great players in program history and remain one of the state’s best. You don’t simply replace players like Canyon Birch, James Pendergist, Jack Fabean, Mike LaPoint, Mike Page, Matt Franzoni and others who graduated in either 2019 or 2020, but the Warriors showcased the depth of their program and their drive from within to put together another standout season.

The Warriors captured the Class B South division title, reached the Shore Conference Tournament championship game for the fifth straight season, won their third straight South Group 1 state sectional crown and reached the Group 1 title game. Manasquan earned wins over Wall, South Group 4 finalist Monroe and CBA (twice) during the regular season and Shore Conference Tournament before steamrolling its way to a sectional title with convincing wins over Madison, Glen Ridge and Bernards. The Warriors were bested by Mountain Lakes, 7-6, in the Group 1 championship game. All four of the Warriors’ losses (No. 3 Mountain Lakes, No. 5 Rumson, No. 6 Seton Hall Prep, and No. 18 Montclair) came against top-20 teams.

Senior attackman and UPenn commit Casey Mulligan closed out an outstanding career by scoring 61 goals and adding 27 assists to finish fourth in the Shore in scoring. While Mulligan was the go-to guy on offense, the Warriors were deceptively balanced with sophomore attackman Matt Porazzo (45g, 10a), senior attackman Owen McCusker (39g, 7a), senior midfielder Mike Farinacci (26g, 10a), junior midfielder Robert Pendergist (30g, 5a) and senior midfielder Hayden Grecsek (25g, 6a) all turning in big seasons. At the face-off X, junior Quinnipiac commit Max Pauwels was outstanding in winning a Shore Conference-best 80 percent of face-offs. Manasquan’s group of defensemen was superb, as well, led by senior Richmond signee Mike Farrell. With Farrell, junior Loyola commit Dylan LeBlanc, junior Colgate commit and versatile senior poles Bryce Ridge and Chris Farinacci in front of junior goalie Carter Groezinger, the Warriors allowed just 4.4 goals per game.

Mulligan and Farrell led the list of players who are moving on due to graduation, but Manasquan had several underclassmen play prominent roles this season and has more in the pipeline coming for 2022.

 

3. Wall (16-4)

In winning 16 games, reaching the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals for the first and advancing to the South Group 2 sectional final for the first time, Wall put together the best season in program history under first-year head coach Victor Rivera.

The Crimson Knights opened the season with a lopsided win over eventual South Group 4 champion Southern, beat South Group 4 finalist Monroe and then topped Howell for a strong 3-0 start. Their signature win came on May 18 when they took down state-ranked Lenape, 12-3. They also defeated Shore Regional, 8-6, in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals and beat Somerville, 12-9, in the South Group 2 semifinals. All four of Wall’s losses (No. 5 Rumson twice, No. 8 Westfield and No. 12 Manasquan) came to teams ranked in the state top 20.

The driving force for Wall was one of New Jersey’s best players: senior attackman Logan Peters. The Rutgers commit closed out his career by leading the Shore Conference in goals (78), assists (62) and points (140) for an offense that averaged 12.7 goals per game. He led New Jersey in points while finishing tied for second in goals and fourth in assists. Wall’s offense also received a huge lift from sophomore attackman John McCurry, who burst onto the scene with 62 goals and 20 assists, and junior midfielder and Army commit Matt Dollive (37g, 27a). The Crimson Knights’ defense played its best lacrosse down the stretch with junior poles Charlie Sasso and Brian Byrne, sophomore defenseman Bill Carr, sophomore LSM Dom Giglio, junior defensive midfielder Jake Davis, sophomore defensive middie Anthony Gartz, and junior goalie Aiden Kessler allowing 6.7 goals per game during the Shore Conference and NJSIAA Tournaments.

Losing Peters, senior attackman Daniel Burns (14g, 16a), senior midfielder Ryan Brice (21g, 15a) and senior FOGO Kyle Wenzel (60 percent F/O wins) to graduation will string, but Wall has a bevy of key returners for 2022 and beyond as it will look to continue its ascent.

 

4. Christian Brothers Academy (15-5)

It was another strong season for head coach Dave Santos’ squad. The Colts won another Class A North title with an undefeated run through the division, reached the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals and won a game in the loaded Non-Public A state tournament bracket. They finished the season ranked No. 16 in New Jersey.

CBA posted wins over South Group 3 finalist Shawnee, Howell, South Group 4 champion Southern (twice) and Middletown South. The Colts defeated St. Joseph (Metuchen) in the first round of the state tournament. CBA’s losses were all against ranked teams or ones that were ranked at the time of the game: No. 12 Manasquan (twice), No. 6 Seton Hall Prep, Bergen Catholic and prep power Lawrenceville.

Senior attackman Dan Martin led CBA’s offense with 40 goals and 26 assists and the Villanova commit finished with 109 career goals. Senior attackman Ryan Howard (34g, 18a), sophomore attackman Nick Blalock (36g, 10a), senior Mike DeRosa (20g, 9a) and senior Monmouth University commit Terrance Lacewell (12g, 8a) also had strong seasons. Senior goalie Noah D’Andrea, a Providence College signee, backstopped a defense that allowed five goals per game and received solid and reliable play from senior defensemen Aidan Quinn (Marist) and Cooper Graham (Muhlenberg). CBA also had one of the best FOGOs in senior Jared Lucich. The Babson commit was a difference-maker by winning 70 percent of face-offs.

CBA will graduate a large and impactful senior class but will have some very good players returning next season, including rising seniors Max Avrillon and Aidan Guinnessey, rising juniors Nick Blalock, Brendan Donnelly and Ian McCray, and rising sophomore Ryan Martin.

 

5. Shore (13-5)

Two years after authoring the best season in program history, the Blue Devils came back with almost an entirely new roster and delivered another standout season under veteran head coach Gregg Malfa.

Shore won’t have any championship hardware to show for its efforts thanks to running into Rumson in Class B North, Wall in the SCT and top-seeded Bernards in the South Group 1 state tournament, but that should not detract from their solid campaign. Shore had wins over Red Bank, South Group 4 champion Southern and Holmdel during the regular season and rallied past Haddonfield, 8-7, in the South Group 1 playoffs. Shore’s losses came to Middletown South, Rumson, South Group 4 finalist Monroe, Wall and Bernards.

Junior midfielder Jamie Mazzacco was Shore’s known commodity on offense entering the season and he lived up the billing with a team-high 48 goals and 26 assists for a team-leading 74 points. Senior Sean O’Brien was one of the conference’s top face-off specialists as a sophomore and he ran it back this season by winning 74 percent of face-offs and picking up a Shore Conference-best 237 ground balls. What took Shore’s offense, which averaged 11.9 goals per game, to the next level was the emergence of first-time starters. Junior attackman Carson Cooke had a big year with 36 goals and 34 assists while freshman Sam Madalone had a huge debut season with 35 goals and 25 assists. Senior Cory Moeller (14g, 19a), freshman Carson Spallone (14g, 12a), and junior Andrew Decker (11g, 7a) provided complementary scoring. Shore’s defense allowed 5.7 goals per game and was led by sophomore goalie Walker Hunter, freshman defenseman Jackson Whitacre and junior LSM Max White.

Shore will graduate seven seniors but has plenty of talented youth returning for 2022. The Blue Devils have made the climb up the ranks in the conference and they look like they’re here to stay.

 

6. Southern (16-5)

A season that was shaping up to be ordinary by Southern’s standards turned rather extraordinary thanks to an unforgettable state tournament run.

Southern was the No. 4 seed in the South Jersey Group 4 tournament and surged to the program’s third sectional crown thanks to a phenomenal stretch by its defense and junior goalie Tyler Sininsky. Southern switched to a zone defense late in the season and the Rams were nearly flawless in executing the scheme during the state tournament with a 14-4 win over Eastern and a 7-2 win over Howell in the first two rounds. Southern then went on the road and took down top-seeded Montgomery, 8-4, before finishing off its title run with an emphatic 14-4 victory over Monroe in the South Group 4 sectional championship game. The Rams fell to a stacked Hunterdon Central squad, 7-2, in the Group 4 final. During the regular season, Southern won its eighth straight Class A South division title and extended its division winning streak to 56 games. Southern also had a win over South Group 3 finalist Shawnee late in the season. The Rams’ losses came to Wall, CBA (twice), Shore and Hunterdon Central.

The aforementioned defense was led by Sininsky, an NJIT commit, between the pipes and the defensive unit of senior JT Hille (Hood College commit), juniors Nate Committee (Bellarmine commit), Tyler Smith and Brock Lefkus and senior defensive midfielder Frank Fierra. The Rams allowed just 5.04 goals per game this season and just 4.2 during the state tournament. Offensively, Southern had five players tally 45 points or more. Junior attackman Ryan Sininsky, also an NJIT commit, had a huge season with 64 goals and 22 assists and sophomore midfielder Joey DeYoung had a great debut season with 43 goals and 17 assists. Twin brothers Zach Washco (35g, 19a) and Jake Washco (32g, 15a) were strong in the midfield and senior attackman Luke Bruther (22g, 23a) provided punch working mostly from X.

Southern started a whopping 16 first-year varsity players and with only a handful of seniors graduating the Rams will be in line for another bit season in 2022.

 

7. Howell (12-6) 

The Rebels were a middle-of-the-rankings team for most of the season and did enough down the stretch to hold onto a spot for the final top 10. Howell finished second in Class A North behind No. 4 CBA thanks to a thrilling 8-7 win over Middletown South. The Rebels also posted notable wins over Holmdel (twice) and Colts Neck. The Rebels’ losses came to Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Rumson, Wall, CBA, Manasquan and Southern. They reached the quarterfinals of both the SCT and the South Group 4 state tournament.

Sophomore attackman Nate Lorenzo led the team in two of three scoring categories with 32 goals and 20 assists for 52 points. Junior midfielder Doug MacKenzie scored a team-high 35 goals and added 11 assists. Junior midfielder Tyler Burns (27g, 18a), junior attackman Vincent Burns (19g, 15a), senior attackman/midfielder James Fay (22g, 8a), sophomore attackman Jack Marich (19g, 6a) and junior attackman/midfielder Dax Kukan (12g, 8a) provided Howell with a balanced scoring attack. Standout senior LSM Theo Deberghes led the defense in front of junior goalie Colin Fay, who made 185 saves with a 61 percent save percentage.

Deberghes and Fay are big losses to graduation but Howell returns most of its starting lineup for next season.

 

8. Red Bank (10-7)

It was a banner season for the Bucs, who reached the quarterfinals of both the Shore Conference Tournament and NJSIAA South Group 2 state playoffs. A late-season win over Middletown South in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament thrust Red Bank into the top 10 and they sealed a spot in the final rankings by winning a state tournament game (16-4 over Gov. Livingston).

None of Red Bank’s seven losses would be considered “bad” losses, either. They fell to Middletown South on opening day but would later avenge that loss. They also suffered defeats to South Group 4 finalist Monroe, No. 5 Shore Regional, No. 10 St. Rose, twice to No. 1 Rumson, and to Somerville in the sectional quarterfinals.

Senior attackman Ryan McGee had another huge season with 57 goals and 27 assists to finish sixth in the Shore in scoring. Underclassmen were the story outside of McGee as sophomores Ryder Villani (42g, 22a) and Henry Spencer (34g, 17a), and freshman Andrew Pape (28g, 27a) all had great debut seasons. Senior Nick Walsack added 25 points on seven goals and 18 assists. Senior Ryan Karr led the Bucs’ defense in front of senior goalie Gordon Ogden, who converted from LSM to goalie because of an injury. A Jacksonville signee, Ogden was great in goal with a 63 percent save percentage, which was tied for fifth-best in the Shore. He also had three goals and eight assists when he played LSM earlier in the season.

RBR loses some key players to graduation but has an exciting young core that will lead the way moving forward.

  

9. Middletown South (11-4)

The Eagles suffered a tough blow early in the season when standout senior attackman Jason Allen was lost to an injury, but the Eagles were able to find some new go-to scorers, play solid defense and turn in another very good season under veteran head coach Sal Guastella in his first season at The Swamp.

Middletown South was ranked No. 5 for much of the season until losses to Howell and Red Bank in a 10-day span dropped the Eagles down to No. 9. Their resume does include wins over Red Bank and No. 5 Shore Regional and their only other losses came to No. 4 CBA and to Northern Highlands in the North Group 3 state playoffs. Even though Middletown South split with Red Bank, the most recent game result takes precedence.

The Eagles did, however, make history this season when they defeated Roxbury, 14-5, in the first round of the state tournament to earn the first state playoff victory in program history.

Junior Luke Rohrmann emerged as the Eagles’ leading scorer by tallying 35 goals and eight assists for 43 points. Luke Platzke (22g, 13a), Aidan Kane (13g, 15a), Ryan Paulsen (18g, 3a) Matt Dunphy (12g, 7a) were also consistent offensive contributors. Sophomore FOGO Beau Servidio also had a good season by winning 62 percent of his face-offs. Middletown South also boasted one of the best defensemen in the Shore in senior Tyler Colacichi, who spearheaded a unit that surrendered just 5.4 goals per game.

 

10. St. Rose (14-6) 

The Purple Roses put forth a great season with 14 wins and victories in the opening round of both the Shore Conference Tournament and the NJSIAA Non-Public B state tournament. In their first year under head coach Jeff Rosenberg, St. Rose had its most wins in at least a decade and possibly in program history.

Notable wins for the Roses include victories over Colts Neck, Red Bank, Brick, Jackson Memorial and Barnegat, the latter of which came in the SCT and avenged a loss from the regular season.

The trio of Logan LeMoult, Brendan Dwyer and Colin Westhoven shouldered the offensive load for St. Rose while senior Max MacEachern played every minute of every game in goal and turned in a very good season. LeMoult scored a team-high 58 goals and added 23 assists for a team-leading 81 points. Dwyer scored 45 goals and added 24 assists for 69 points and Westhoven scored 30 goals, added 16 assists, picked up 83 ground balls and won 57 percent of his face-offs. MacEachern led the Shore with 215 saves and stopped 61 percent of shots on goal.

  

Honorable Mention:

Barnegat (11-4): The Bengals rebounded from some lean years to post their most wins since 2014. Five players scored at least 20 points, led by senior attackman Tyler Quinn (37g, 17a), senior midfielder John Porcelli (34g, 8a), junior midfielder Aidan Reiser (16g, 18a), senior midfielder James Corliss (25g, 5a) and senior attackman Jerry Weir (19g, 5a). Senior goalie Brian Corliss was tied for second in the Shore with a 65 percent save percentage. 

 

Brick Memorial (14-5): The Mustangs set a program record for wins in a season and also won a state tournament game to cap a memorable year. Senior midfielder and NJIT commit Darren Romaine set a program record with 104 points, totaling 56 goals and 48 assists to finish second in the Shore in scoring. Brick Memorial also received big seasons by senior midfielder Filipe Correia (44g, 31a), senior attackman Chris Marks (39g, 24a), junior midfielder Henry Lindquist (39g, 11a), senior FOGO Luke Ray (69%, 165 ground balls) and senior defenseman Luke Vojtko (107 ground balls).

 

Colts Neck (10-7): Regular-season wins over Ocean, Brick Memorial, Jackson Memorial and Brick, and a state-tournament win over Cherry Hill West highlighted the Cougars’ season. Colts Neck had six players score at least 27 points: senior attackman Anastagio Muscara (26g, 22a), senior attackman Peter Davi (18g, 24a), senior midfielder Mike Deissler (29g, 12a), senior attackman Nate Rowohit (23g, 10a), sophomore Sean Perkinson (24g, 5a), and senior midfielder Chris Defillippo (16g, 11a).

 

Holmdel (8-7): Senior midfielder and St. Joseph’s University Ryan Bradley (36g, 23a, 74gb), junior attackman Kyle Kapcsos (38g, 22a, 55gb), senior attackman Joseph Hammer (28g, 15a), and senior defenseman Alex Baker (82gb) led the way for a Hornets team that rebounded from a touch stretch in the middle of the season to close strong and win a game in the state tournament.

 

Manalapan (7-8): The Braves’ inaugural varsity season saw them build the foundation for a future that looks to have them contending sooner than later. Senior Mike DeMayo sank 40 goals, assisted on 25 more and picked up 75 ground balls to lead the way while freshmen midfielder Grant Carle had a big year with 13 goals, 13 assists, 152 ground balls, and a 69 percent win rate on face-offs. Freshman Anthony Macchio (13g, 19a), senior Matt Sadler (14g, 11a), junior Frankie D’Amore (13g, 11a) and freshman Marc Stefanelli (12g, 11a) also had notable stat lines.

 

 

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