RUMSON — Getting to play one final game with some of his longtime teammates meant the world to Rumson-Fair Haven’s Butch Clark. Dominating in his final high school lacrosse appearance made it even more special.

Clark was nearly unstoppable in winning 25 of 28 face-offs to lead the North All-Stars to a 14-10 victory over the South All-Stars in the Shore Conference Lacrosse Coaches Association Senior All-Star Game on Wednesday night at Borden Stadium. The first-team Class B North and first-team All-Shore face-off specialist showed his prowess by winning all 14 first-half draws and remaining undefeated in the circle until the third quarter en route to being selected as the game’s most valuable player.

“I’m used to this field so that helped,” Clark said. “The other kid out there (Jackson Liberty’s Christian Pongracz) was doing a good job and I had a lot of help from the wings today.”

Clark won 66 percent of face-offs this season while picking up a team-leading 78 ground balls to help Rumson win a record sixth Shore Conference Tournament title and third in the last four years. He’ll continue his career at Pace University.

“I put in a lot of work in the offseason and on my own time after and before practice,” Clark said. “That’s been the biggest part of it. I take a lot of pride in it, helping my team win any way I can. It’s pretty much my only job out there. I’m not much of an offensive player. I just win it and pass it off to somebody who is.”

Photo by Ray Richardson.
Photo by Ray Richardson.

Ocean midfielder Erik Rant and Red Bank midfielder Ryan Gilmartin each scored three times for the North squad while Red Bank midfielder Brian Fagan had a goal and two assists. Red Bank attackman Cole Smolokoff and Red Bank Catholic attackman Alec Mintz also scored twice. Colts Neck goalie Andrew Halmi made 10 saves playing in the second half.

Manasquan midfielder Paul Krueger, Point Boro attackman Matt Schwartz and Jackson Liberty attackman Tyler Kalmowitz each scored twice for the South team. Jackson Liberty’s Chris Mulholland made 10 saves playing the third and fourth quarters.

The South scored three straight goals in the second quarter on tallies by Wall attackman Mike Steppe, Schwartz and Kalmowitz to take a 5-4 lead, but goals by Mintz and Gilmartin sandwiched around a goal by Southern’s James Manzo had the score tied 6-6 at halftime.

Rant, Shore midfielder Doug Goldsmith and Rumson attackman Henry Sillen each scored in the third quarter as the North held a 9-8 lead heading to the final period. Schwartz scored his second of the game to tie the score at nine, but four straight tallies by Smolokoff, Fagan, Howell midfielder Nic Rossi and Smolokoff again gave the North enough cushion to hold on for the win.

There were a pair of brothers that played in both the youth all-star game and the senior all-star game. Jackson Liberty defenseman Austin Doel and his younger brother, attackman Brendan, each suited up for the South teams while Halmi and younger brother Chris, a defenseman, each played for the North.

“It was a good feeling having him play too and being in the senior all-star game myself,” Andrew Halmi said.

“I’m kind of speechless,” Chris Halmi said. “I’m proud watching my brother play. One of the big reasons I play defense is him. I want to be on the defensive side with a good goalie like him. I ask him all the time what to do on defense and he’s always helping me out. He’s a good inspiration.”

“It was special for me,” Brendan Doel said. “He’s going to college next year so I won’t be able to see him play.”

“It was really great,” Austin Doel said. “I loved watching my brother play.”

Austin Doel was part of a contingent of seven Jackson Liberty players in the game that helped the Lions win a program-record 13 games this past season and advance to the NJSIAA sectional semifinals for the first time in program history.

“It was very special,” he said. “We’ve been playing together since rec league so it was great to have one last ride with the boys.”

Clark echoed that sentiment. He and teammates Sillen and fellow attackman Robbie Garavente, defenseman Ian Clarke and goalie Kyle Knapp were part of a Rumson group that won three Shore Conference Tournament titles in four years and captured the 2015 NJSIAA Group I title, the first and only state title for a Shore Conference team.

“It was really nice to wrap up my high school career with guys I’ve been playing with since the fourth grade on our home field,” Clark said. “We lost in that last game against Manasquan (in the South Group II sectional final) so it was nice to go out and get a win today.”

Box Score

North All-Stars 14, South All-Stars 10

North  2 4 3 5 — 14

South 1 5 2 2 — 10

GOALS - N: Erik Rant 3, Ryan Gilmartin 3, Cole Smolokoff 2, Alec Mintz 2, Henry Sillen, Nic Rossi, Brian Fagan, Doug Goldsmith; S: Paul Krueger 2, Matt Schwartz 2, Tyler Kalmowitz 2, Joe Jinks, Mike Steppe, James Manzo, J.J. McKenna.

ASSISTS - N: Brian Fagan 2, Nic Rossi, Henry Sillen, Joey Appio; S: Lucas Iarossi, Nick Simonelli, Tyler Sosa.

SAVES - N: Kyle Knapp 2, Andrew Halmi 10; S: Jake Dallago 6, Chris Mulholland 10.

SHOTS: North 47-38.

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