Christian Brothers Academy Locks Down Southern Regional to Advance to Boys Lacrosse Shore Conference Tournament Semifinals
MIDDLETOWN -- Combining balanced scoring and stifling defensive execution is a great recipe for success during the postseason. That has been the trend for Christian Brothers Academy's lacrosse team during its biggest games this season.
On Thursday afternoon at Keane Field, the fourth-seeded Colts used a phenomenal all-around defensive performance and several timely goals to earn an impressive 8-3 victory over fifth-seeded Southern Regional in the quarterfinals of the 2022 Shore Conference Tournament. Junior attackmen Brendan Donnelly and Nick Blalock led the way, offensively, with two goals each while sophomore goalie Brandon DeSena made 10 saves to back up an excellent defense that limited a talented Southern offense to just three goals.
CBA now advances to the SCT semifinals for the 15th time in 16 years since the tournament's inception in 2005. The Colts will travel east to face No. 1 Rumson-Fair Haven at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning.
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Senior midfielder Aidan Guinnessey added a goal and an assist while senior middies Sean Tennyson and Hayden Kelly and sophomore attackman Ryan Martin each scored once.
"I think this team has been on a steady incline all season," Guinnessey said. "We scheduled some tough games against some great teams and it's made us a better team. We have really bonded and now we have a really good group heading forward in the playoffs."
The story for CBA was its defense. Southern entered the game with a 12-1 record and averaging 13.5 goals per game with an offense that features six players with double-digit goals and at least 24 points. With senior Peter Canterino, junior Ryan Caufield, and freshman Luke Krebs at close defense, freshman Quinn Kelly at LSM, DeSena in goal, and seniors Max Avrillon and Sean Tennyson and sophomore Packy Quinn as defensive midfielders, CBA continually prevented Southern from generating quality scoring attempts.
"Having Pete back is huge (he missed two weeks during April), Caufield had a great game today, and the two freshmen are just outstanding," said CBA head coach Dave Santos. "Southern has a lot of firepower and we managed to hold them to just three."
"Getting ground balls; we had to really take some chances and be tenacious, take some risks to limit their possessions because, obviously, they have a lot of talent on offense," Canterino said.
Senior attackman Jack Kolbe and junior midfielder Joey DeYoung are Southern's top two scorers and both can score from distance without much time or space. They combined for all three of the Rams' goals but were largely held in check by CBA's defensive midfielders. At the same time, the close defense was great when Southern ran plays through X.
"The difference was the one-on-one defense," Santos said. "We took away the top side and played good, smart, fundamental defense. Packy, Max, and Tenny are three really good one-on-one defenders. They are very good at what they do and that was the difference. (Southern) tried to attack our short sticks and they were up to the task."
A three-goal first quarter set the tone for CBA. A transition goal by Donnelly off a pass from Guinnessey at 9:07 started the scoring and goals by Tennyson and Kelly made it 3-0 and prompted a Southern timeout with 5:44 left in the opening quarter. That was enough cushion for the Colts, who held at least a two-goal advantage for the rest of the game.
Kolbe got Southern on the board with an unassisted goal at 5:02, and 16 seconds later CBA was flagged for a roughing penalty. The Rams had a chance to pull within a goal during a one-minute man advantage, but CBA gained possession off a turnover and scored a goal of its own when Martin converted a man-down shot at 3:58.
"I think that was a point where they could have started to carry some momentum and then Ryan comes down and scores and it totally changes the game," Guinnessey said.
Southern was able to cut the gap to 4-2 when Kolbe scored off an assist from senior attackman Ryan Sininsky early in the second quarter. Like Martin's goal a quarter earlier, CBA punched in another momentum-changing goal when Guinnessey put back the rebound off a shot by Martin with just six seconds left to give the Colts a 5-2 halftime advantage.
CBA put the game away in the third quarter with all three goals. Blalock scored twice in third, once at 7:07 and again at 4:13, before more late-quarter magic. This time it was a goal by Donnelly with seven seconds on the clock that put the Colts up 8-2 heading into the final 12 minutes. DeYoung scored in the fourth quarter for Southern to account for the final scoring margin.
CBA won four of the first five SCT titles and has appeared in the championship game a total of six times. In order to return to the championship stage, however, the Colts will have to get through the No. 1 team in the Shore. Rumson is the defending champion, has won a record seven total SCT titles, and has played in the championship game 12 times. CBA understands the challenge ahead, but considering they have literally seen the best team in the country this season when they played St. John's College HS (D.C.) in April, the Colts won't be intimidated.
"Obviously they're a really good team and they've been a rival of ours for a long time," Canterino said. "We know they have a ton of good players but it's nothing we haven't seen before playing St. John's, Georgetown, and Lawrenceville. No one really thinks we're going to win that game, but the 30 kids here do and that's all that matters."
(4) CBA 8, (5) CBA 3
Southern (12-2) 0 2 0 1 -- 3
CBA (11-6). 3 2 3 0 -- 8
GOALS -- S: Jack Kolbe 2, Joey DeYoung; CBA: Brendan Donnelly 2, Nick Blalock 2, Aidan Guinnessey, Hayden Kelly, Sean Tennyson, Ryan Martin.
ASSISTS -- S: Ryan Sininsky; CBA: Aidan Guinnessey, Ian Macrae, Max Avrillon, Nick Blalock.
SAVES -- S: Tyler Sininsky 12; CBA: Brandon DeSena 10
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CBA vs. Southern Lacrosse - 2022 SCT Quarterfinals