Canyon Birch Scores 200th Goal to Lead No. 1 Manasquan Past No. 5 Wall
WALL TOWNSHIP – Finding a way to at least slow down Canyon Birch is a must for any team hoping to defeat Manasquan and no team has come close to halting the high-scoring attackman this season.
Birch was at it again on Wednesday against rival Wall with a game-high eight goals, including the 200th of his career, to lead the Warriors, ranked No. 1 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, to an 18-8 Shore Conference Class B South victory over the No. 5 Crimson Knights at the 18th Avenue Sports Complex.
Birch scored the first two goals of the game and Manasquan (7-0, 3-0) jumped out to an 8-0 lead after a dominating first quarter. He added two more in the second quarter, three in the third and one more over the final 12 minutes to increase his state-best total to 46 goals. He also added an assist to give him 19 on the season. His 65 points also leads New Jersey.
“It feels great and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Birch said. “The attack line has been big all through my career playing with my brothers, Jarrett, and Joe Tonkovich the last two years and this year Casey Mulligan as a freshman and Ryan Anderson have really stepped into big roles. And it’s definitely a lot better to do it against Wall than anyone else with them being a big rival.”
“Any superlative you want to throw in there that’s what he’s been this season,” said Manasquan head coach Sean Cunningham. “And it’s been the consistency. When we played Bridgewater he’s going against a kid who’s a high Division I commit and he scores six. He’s taken his game to a different level. He’s very dangerous from all positions, his work rate is off the charts and he’s a great shooter, which is abundantly clear when he scores 200 goals midway through his junior year.”
Birch, who is verbally committed to Army West Point, is the fifth Shore Conference player to reach 200 career goals. Southern’s Dylan Jinks is the all-time leader with 274, so Birch is certainly within striking distance considering he has the rest of this season plus his senior year still to go. Jarrett Birch is second with 266, CBA great Tommy Duerr scored 253 and Red Bank’s Corey Lunney scored 242 goals.
“We’ve been going at it since fifth grade and every single practice it’s been a Canyon vs. Jack matchup,” said Manasquan junior defenseman Jack Fabean. “I know what he’s going to do but to cover him is the hardest test anyone’s going to face. He’s basically ambidextrous, he squats 1,000 pounds and he’s shifty.”
Junior attackman Ryan Anderson also continued his strong season for Manasquan with four goals and one assist while junior midfielder James Pendergist tallied two goals and one assist and freshman attackman Casey Mulligan added one goal and one assist. Mike Farinacci, James McElduff and Casey Campbell each scored once, Riley Callahan had a pair of assists and junior goalie Mike LaPoint made four saves.
Wall (6-2, 2-1) made a brief run by scoring the first three goals of the fourth quarter to cut Manasquan’s lead to 15-7, but the Warriors came back with three goals in a span of 3:17 to cruise to the 10-goal win. Connor Prindiville led the Crimson Knights with four goals and Mike McIntyre added two goals. Senior goalie Sean DeMott made 12 saves and prevented the game from getting completely out of hand in the first half by making nine stops.
Despite and win and improving to 7-0 this season Manasquan walked away from the game knowing there are plenty of areas that need improvement.
“Letting in eight goals is disappointing for us,” Fabean said. “If I was going to rate us so far I’d give us a B- or a C+. We’re not doing awful but as every team, especially a young team like we are, we need to improve and by the end of the season we’ll be clicking at full strength.”
“We’ve been starting hot and then in the second quarter, at times, we’ve been having a little trouble at times like we did today,” Birch said. “We just need to get rid of that.”
“A team that is as offensively talented as Wall and as well-coached as they are, they were going to make a run,” Cunningham said. “We were fortunate to get a big lead early and weather the storm but they have some guys who can really score and they have some tremendous athletes. It’s about consistency. You have to be able to maintain that focus and drive for the entire game instead of starting fast and assuming (Wall) is not going to make adjustments and play hard. It shines a light on some of your deficiencies but it’s simple fixes.”
The Warriors return to action on Saturday and have a big week next week with games against Lawrenceville Prep and No. 2 Christian Brothers Academy. Reinforcements will also arrive for the CBA game when junior long-stick midfielder Mike Page and sophomore midfielder Matt Franzoni become eligible after transferring.
No. 1 Manasquan 18, No. 5 Wall 8
Manasquan (7-0, 3-0) 8 2 5 3 – 18
Wall (6-2, 2-1) 0 2 2 4 – 8
GOALS – M: Canyon Birch 8, Ryan Anderson 4, James Pendergist 2, Casey Mulligan, James McElduff, Casey Campbell, Mike Farinacci; W: Connor Prindiville 4, Mike McIntyre 2, Kyle Peters, Tim O’Hern.
ASSISTS – M: Riley Callahan 2, Canyon Birch, Ryan Anderson, Casey Mulligan, Evan Hilla; W: Tim O’Hern.
SAVES – M: Mike LaPoint 4; W: Sean DeMott 12
SHOTS: Manasquan, 39-23.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.