Boys Lacrosse: Final SSN Top 10
The final edition of the Shore Sports Network Boys Lacrosse Top 10 is here as we put to bed another great season of lacrosse in the Shore Conference. For the fifth straight season, we had a team win an NJSIAA sectional championship and the Shore Conference Tournament delivered arguably the best game in the tournament’s 13-year history. The Shore is evolving and it’s a great time to be involved in the sport.
Putting together the rankings, especially the final version, is never easy. This season was no different. Rumson and Manasquan were without question the two best teams in the Shore all season and split the two games they played against each other, both of which came in championship games. Manasquan had an excellent body of work, including some great nonconference wins, while Rumson also played a difficult schedule.
After the top three things get a little murky, with three teams that can legitimately stake a claim to the No. 4 spot. There is a triangle between Freehold Township, Southern and Howell with the Patriots beating Howell and losing to Southern, the Rebels losing to Freehold and beating Southern and the Rams losing to Howell and beating Freehold Township. Got that? Exactly. What we do in this situation is to throw out the triangle and use the rest of the games as criteria. Freehold Township had the best resume, followed by Southern and Howell.
St. John Vianney made history with its deepest run in the SCT while Ocean and Howell turned in solid years again. St. Rose made a big splash with a historic postseason victory to secure the final spot.
Now, onto the rankings for the final time in 2017.
1. Rumson-Fair Haven (21-4)
The Bulldogs continued their stellar play in the first season under head coach Marc Moreau, winning the Class B North division title, reaching the Shore Conference Tournament final for the ninth straight season and taking the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II sectional title. Three of Rumson’s four losses came to teams ranked in the state top 20 while the other defeat came at the hands of national power IMG Academy on opening day. Choosing between Rumson and Manasquan for the No. 1 spot was difficult, and the deciding factor was a 5-4 win by Rumson in the South Jersey Group II final. Last season’s final top 10 came down to the same situation with Manasquan finishing No. 1 after claiming the sectional title, so it’s only fair to give Rumson the nod in 2017. Outside of the Shore, Rumson had notable nonconference wins over St. Peter’s Prep, Ocean City and Somerville. The Bulldogs graduate their top eight scorers as well as their entire defense and goalie, but with a tremendous feeder program and a top-notch coaching staff they should once again be near the top of the Shore next season. Attackman Wyatt Feinberg, midfielder Peter Lucas, FOGO Alex Maldjian and defenseman Pierce Jarck lead the list of returners next season.
2. Manasquan (21-2)
Despite falling to rival Rumson, 5-4, in the South Jersey Group II final, Manasquan turned in the best season in program history to finish ranked top 10 in New Jersey. The Warriors won the Class B South title for the third straight year and captured their first Shore Conference Tournament championship with an epic 8-7 victory over defending champion Rumson. Manasquan also compiled an impressive nonconference resume with a win over Tournament of Champions finalist Moorestown as well as victories Madison and Ridge. Aside from the loss to Rumson, Manasquan’s only other defeat was a 6-3 setback to Bridgewater-Raritan. Brothers Jarrett and Canyon Birch were two of the state’s most lethal scorers as Jarrett led New Jersey with 86 goals and finished with 105 points. Canyon scored 77 goals and led the Shore with 106 points. Manasquan will lose nine starters to graduation but has a tremendous rising sophomore class that will keep the Warriors among the elite teams in the Shore. Canyon Birch, midfielders James Pendergist, James Mele, James McElduff, Riley Callahan, Evan Hilla and Ryan Anderson, defenseman Jack Fabean and goalie Mike LaPoint give Manasquan a strong core going forward.
3. Christian Brothers Academy (10-8)
The Colts were one notch below Rumson and Manasquan but were the clear No. 3 team in the Shore. CBA won the Class A North division title to give them at least a share of the division crown for the ninth straight season and also reached the SCT semifinals. They nearly knocked off eventual T.O.C. champion Delbarton in the state tournament, falling 7-6 in the Non-Public A quarterfinals. CBA had a pair of wins over Freehold Township, including an 8-6 win in the SCT quarterfinals, and also had a win over Howell. Among the Colts losses were two to Manasquan, one to Rumson, one to Non-Public B champion Pingry, IMG Academy and Delbarton, so their schedule was very challenging. Among the players CBA loses to graduation is leading scorer Nick Casner, who ended up third all-time in scoring at CBA. Attackman Michael Carroll and midfielders Robbie Hermansen, Luke Valentino, Thomas Convery, Connor Macrae and Nick Robertson lead the group of returners next season for CBA.
4. Freehold Township (13-6)
It was another successful season for the Patriots, who reached the semifinal round of the NJSIAA Tournament for the first time in program history. Freehold Township finished second behind CBA in Class A North and also reached the SCT quarterfinals. Key victories for the Patriots include wins over Howell, St. John Vianney, Shore and against Washington Township in the South Jersey Group IV quarterfinals. Two of Freehold Township’s losses came to CBA, another to Manasquan and another to Group IV champion Montgomery. Senior attackman Drew Dunn finished third in the Shore with 93 points. A large group of seniors graduate for the Patriots, so the challenge will be to integrate new starters next season and remain one of the top teams in the Shore. Attackmen Chris Novella and Brendan Doel, midfielders Matt Graybush, Nick Elimanco and Matt Kondrup and goalies Billy Patten and Aidan Purcell lead the group of returners for next season.
5. Southern (14-4)
It was a season of highs and lows for Southern, but one that still saw the Rams win 14 games and take home the Class A South division title for the fifth consecutive season. Southern began the season with losses in two of its first three games, falling to Howell, 11-9, and Rumson, 9-1. The Rams then won 10 straight games, including a 16-3 thrashing of Freehold Township and victories over Jackson Memorial, Toms River North and Brick Memorial. The Rams were stunned in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament by St. Rose, 8-7, but came back to reach the South Jersey Group IV semifinals before falling to Lenape. Seniors Will Johnson and Kyle Mulrane were two of the top scorers in the Shore, as was sophomore Nick Fontana, who had a breakout season to finish fourth in the Shore with 92 points. Goalie Tristan Farina also had an excellent season to lead the Shore in save percentage for the second straight season. Fontana, face-off ace Anthony Firmani, defensemen Luke Gerhardt and Noah Wasacz, midfielders Ryan McWhorter, Ryan Comfort and Aniello Russo and attackman Cade Johnson lead the cast of returners for next season.
6. Howell (14-5)
Howell finished third in Class A North, reached the SCT quarterfinals and won a game in the South Jersey Group IV playoffs to highlight a season in which they set the program record for wins in a season. The Rebels’ top victory came on opening day when they scored an 11-9 victory over Southern. Howell also had notable wins over Holmdel, Ocean and Brick Memorial. Howell’s losses came to CBA, Manasquan, Freehold Township, Kingsway and Marlboro. The overtime loss to a 6-11 Marlboro team is a puzzling defeat for Howell and is what keeps them from being ranked higher. As good as the win over Southern was, it came on opening day and gets nullified by the loss to Marlboro. Still, it was another successful year for the Rebels. They’ll graduate their top three scorers in midfielder Nico Lorenzo and attackmen Ryan Damelio and Drew Bukowiec. Key returners include LSM Sean Mylod, goalie Nick Roberto, attackman Joey Sorrentino, midfielders Vaughn Meehan and Logan Dennison and defenseman Braedon Baldwin.
7. St. John Vianney (11-10)
St. John Vianney rebounded from a slow start to win some key games down the stretch and reach the SCT semifinals for the first time in program history. In the SCT the Lancers held off Jackson Memorial, 8-7, before taking down St. Rose, 10-6. They fell to Rumson 16-3 in the semifinals. St. John Vianney had notable wins over Holmdel, Ocean and Shore to help them finish second behind Rumson in Class B North. Six of the Lancers’ defeats came in nonconference games and the others were to Manasquan, Rumson (twice) and Freehold Township. The Lancers lose standout midfielder Ryan Gilfillan, leading scorer Andrew Porretta, attackmen Chris Kelly and Tino D’Amore and defenseman Ed Sheridan to graduation, but have a good young core returning which includes goalie C.J. Hanson, defensemen Mike Noble and Kyle Harris, LSM James Guilbert and midfielders Anthony Brett, Matt Franzoni and Nick Peckyno.
8. Wall (12-3)
The Crimson Knights had another 12-win season to finish second in Class B South. Their only defeats within the Shore Conference came to Manasquan and Rumson, but the absence of a challenging nondivisional schedule makes it hard to rank Wall any higher. The Knights’ best win is a 17-2 triumph over rival St. Rose, and they also earned wins over Lacey and Brick Memorial. Wall loses standout defenseman Joe Belko to graduation, plus FOGO Evan Gacos, among others, but has a very good group returning that could have them pushing a top-five spot next season. Attackman Mike McIntyre scored 59 goals and leads the group of returners which also includes attackmen Tim O’Hern and Jack Textor, midfielders Will Forte, Ryan Kellett and Connor Prindiville, LSM Shane Meyler and goalie Sean DeMott.
9. Ocean (12-5)
The Spartans finished third in Class B North and qualified for both the Shore Conference and NJSIAA South Jersey Group II tournaments while finishing with double-digit wins for the third straight year. Key wins for Ocean include victories over Holmdel, Middletown South and Shore. Senior midfielder Sam Hanna was a top-10 scorer in the Shore with 51 goals and 78 points. He along with midfielders Jordan Ornowski, Cole Conti, Tom Amato, defensemen Trevor Kreautler and Clayton Hauck and goalie David Walk are the key losses to graduation. Defenseman Richie Bianchi, attackman Holden Lowe and midfielders Mike Nies and Mike Kircher lead the Spartans’ group of returners for next season.
10. St. Rose (11-7)
The final spot in the 2017 SSN Top 10 goes to the Purple Roses, who set a program single-season for wins in a season, finished with a winning record for the first time since 2011 and scored the biggest upset in the history of the Shore Conference Tournament. No. 14 St. Rose’s 8-7 win over No. 3 Southern in the first round of the SCT sent shockwaves through the Shore and was a feel-good story for a program that faced extinction four years ago. St. Rose also posted victories over Toms River East, Holmdel and New Egypt to highlight the season. Senior attackman Chris Bormida set the program single-season record for goals with 55 and will be a key loss along with attackman Griffin McDermott, goalie Robbie Brugnoli, defenseman Hunter Harms and midfielder Billy Frost. Attackman Shane Reilly, midfielder Mike Kinsel and defenseman Bobby Mahon are St. Rose’s top returners for next season.
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.