Boys Lacrosse: No. 4 Manasquan digs out of early hole to beat No. 2 CBA in rivalry showdown
MANASQUAN -- Manasquan's boys lacrosse team has fielded some exceptional goalies over the past 10 years with All-Shore caliber standards that have helped the Warriors secure multiple championships. The latest in that line is junior Nick Bounassi, and he had his signature game on Tuesday to help lead the Warriors to a huge rivalry victory.
Bounassi made a career-high 17 saves, including several key stops in the first quarter and several more high-danger saves throughout as Manasquan, ranked No. 4 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, rallied for a 13-9 victory over No. 2 Christian Brothers Academy at Pat Barnaba Field.
Manasquan trailed 4-1 in the first quarter but Bounassi made two clutch saves to keep the Warriors' deficit at three. The offense then came alive with three straight goals to tie the score, part of a 7-0 run that gave Manasquan a four-goal halftime cushion it would ride the rest of the way. A balanced offensive output featured sophomore attackman Brandon Kunz tallying a team-high four points on three goals and one assist, senior attackman Matt Porazzo scoring three times, and junior midfielder Brody Muly also notching a hat trick. Senior midfielder James Farinacci scored twice, sophomore attackman Ryan Aldi and senior midfielder Blake Gorski each had a goal and an assist, and sophomore midfielder Matt Schneider proved two assists along with superb work at the defensive end.
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"Being behind one of the best defenses in the state I can trust them to allow good shots for me," said Bounassi, who is committed to High Point University. "Those first four, we were just a little antsy. Once we settled in, had a good talk and got our minds and our feet right, we started getting stops down low."
"He was phenomenal," Porazzo said. "It's not a surprise when he makes saves like that, we know it's going to happen. Some guys take it easy when they get an opening on him but you can't do that with Nick Bounassi. He's one of a kind."
CBA senior attackman Nick Blalock recorded a game-high five points on two goals and three assists and junior goalie Brandon DeSena made eight saves. Senior midfielder Ian Macrae and sophomore midfielder Davis Campbel each scored twice, junior attackman Ryan Martin had a goal and an assist, and seniors Brendan Donnelly and Liam Schwartz had one goal apiece.
Donnelly and Kunz traded goals in the opening 2:31 of the game but CBA netted three straight goals on strikes by Martin, Schwartz, and Blalock to take a 4-1 lead with 3:38 left in the opening quarter. The game could have easily gotten away from Manasquan at that point. Instead, Bounassi made a save that led to a transition goal and the Warriors were right back in it. Manasquan scored three times in the final 3:05 of the quarter with Porazzo, Kunz, and Aldi scoring to tie the game 4-4 heading to the second quarter.
"I thought we were a little sloppy to start and they have the guys who can hurt you," said Manasquan head coach Sean Cunningham. "They are very talented, offensively, and we were giving them opportunities they're going to cash in on. It was 4-1 really quick but I felt if we could get a stop and find that next one we'd be alright. It started on the defensive side with a stop, transition, and a fast-break goal. The defensive settled in and I thought we finished well, offensively."
Porazzo's goal at 3:05 of the first quarter off an assist from Schneider ignited a seven-goal surge that gave Manasquan an 8-4 halftime lead. CBA opened the third quarter with a man-up goal by Macrae off a feed from Blalock, but Manasquan responded with goals by Porazzo and Farinacci to stretch its lead to 10-5. The five-goal deficit was too much to overcome for CBA, but the Colts continued to battle and scored the final two goals of the third quarter (Macrae and Campbell) and the first goal of the fourth quarter (Campbell) to make it a 10-8 game.
The next goal was crucial, and it was Porazzo who scored off a slick setup from Gorski to give Manasquan an 11-8 lead with 5:19 to play. Just over a minute earlier, Bounassi came through with another clutch save to keep the Warriors ahead by two. Manasquan was able to drain a few minutes off the clock before Muly scored an empty-net goal for a 12-8 lead with 2:13 left. He added a similar goal just seven seconds later. Blalock put one in for CBA in the final 30 seconds to account for the final scoring margin.
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"We'd been having a problem where we've been bickering with each other on the field but we put an end to that," Porazzo said. "You could see, down 4-1 everyone's heads were still up. We won the next face-off, scored, got another one, and then another one. It didn't go our way at the start but we just kept grinding away at it."
"We had a heartbreaker vs. Wall (a 7-6 loss on April 19) and that fueled our energy for the rest of the season," Bounassi said. "We needed this one today. We needed a good, clean win and that's what we did."
Manasquan is now 10-3 with all three losses coming against standout teams - the loss to state No. 15 Wall, another to state No. 2 Seton Hall Prep, and a defeat at the hands of Selesianum (Del.), which was nationally ranked at the time. The Warriors are ranked No. 15 in. New Jersey by NJ.com. They received the No. 3 seed for the Shore Conference Tournament behind defending champion Rumson-Fair Haven and No. 2 Wall and ahead of CBA.
"At this juncture, we're peaking at the perfect time with the Shore Conference Tournament and state tournament right after that," said Porazzo, a Monmouth University signee. "We're clicking at the right time. The offense in the Wall game wasn't there yet but we went to the film room and made some adjustments and now the offense, defense, and every part of the field is looking really good."
"This is always a big game on the calendar," said Cunningham, who was a standout defenseman at CBA and has been Manasquan's head coach since 2015. "Take my unique relationship out of the equation and it's the two oldest programs in the Shore, a historic rivalry, and a program we have a ton of respect for. Having played for coach Santos myself it's always great to see him and catch up. We have nothing but the utmost respect for his staff and those young men and how they carry themselves. To get a win like this right before the playoffs start is a great confidence builder. There are so many intangible qualities to that win that you can't quite articulate now but you know will help you as you go forward."
No. 4 Manasquan 13, No. 2 Christian Brothers Academy 9