WEST LONG BRANCH — The road to a championship was paved starting last summer for Christian Brothers Academy's lacrosse team. The early-morning meetups to lift weights, run conditioning drills, and grow stronger and tighter as a team were done with one goal in mind, and it all came together on Monday night at Monmouth University.

Junior midfielder Davis Campbell scored the game-tying goal off a wild loose-ball scramble with 1:20 left in the fourth quarter, then delivered the go-ahead goal with 12.3 seconds left in regulation to give second-seeded CBA a thrilling and dramatic 5-4 victory over top-seeded Manasquan in the Shore Conference Tournament championship game at Kessler Stadium.

It is CBA's fifth SCT title in program history and its first since 2009.


Bob Badders | rpbphotography.com
Bob Badders | rpbphotography.com

"We were putting in the work from the beginning and we had one goal in mind, and that was to win the Shore," senior defenseman Manolis Paragioudakis said.

"I'm just so happy for this senior group," CBA head coach Dave Santos said.  "From September they've just taken it upon themselves to lead these guys, this group of 15 seniors."

Manasquan junior attackman Brandon Kunz gave the Warriors a 4-3 lead with a man-up goal with 4:47 left and senior goalie Nick Bounassi made a key save with 2:47 remaining to preserve Manasquan's lead for the moment. On the following Manasquan possession, a check by senior defensive midfielder Packy Quinn led to a caused turnover by junior defenseman Quinn Kelly that gave the Colts possession with 2:07 left and enabled CBA to call timeout.

Then, mayhem.

On the ensuing possession, a shot by CBA senior attackman Ryan Martin was saved by Bounassi and bounced to the corner where he and multiple players gave chase. CBA senior midfielder Jack Santos put a hit on Bounassi, picked up the ground ball, and flung it toward the crease where the net was wide open. Martin flipped the loose ball up in the air and Campbell was able to secure it, find an angle, and fire it into the open cage to tie the score 4-4 with under 90 seconds left.

"I saw the ball going in the air and a defender was right next to me so I stuck up my stick, grabbed it, ran around the cage, saw an open goal, and shot it," Campbell said.

"I was right in the middle on the left side equal with the pipe and I see Jack laying the body on Nick, so immediately in my mind I'm thinking we have to push this," Martin said. "The ball came flying over to the crease, a Manasquan pole bobbled it, I flicked it up and had no idea where it was. Next thing I know the goal moves and I start jumping around looking for who scored."

"I was just praying," said Quinn, who watched the chaotic sequence unfold from the sideline. "I saw JS throwing it out of the corner like he's Aaron Rodgers in the pocket, and somehow it ended up in Davis's hands and he made a play."

The Colts were ecstatic, but the realization then hit them that they now had a major opportunity to win the game in regulation. During the mad scramble, a flag was thrown on a Manasquan player for slashing, giving CBA a one-minute extra-man opportunity. And with the dominance of freshman face-off specialist John Little at the X, they knew they would gain possession.

"I knew we were going to take it home," Campbell said.

Little won the face-off and the Colts called another timeout to set up a play. After working the ball around, junior midfielder Hunter Kilpatrick took a shot that was stopped by Bounassi, but Campbell was right there to corral the rebound and deposit the eventual game-winning goal into the back of the net with 12.3 seconds on the clock.

"Right place, right time," Santos said. "He's been that way all year for us with timely goals and today was no different. I love the fact that Davis had a huge game for us because in the semifinals we asked him to take a reduced role and normally he's our stud middie. He accepted it. He had no points. But every goal we scored in the semis he was the first to celebrate. Today, we needed him to step up and he did in a huge way."  

Manasquan gained possession off the final face-off due to a push call on CBA, and the Warriors called timeout with 8.4 seconds left. The CBA defense came through with one final takeaway as the loose ball rolled toward Paragioudakis, who picked it up and fired it high into the air as the final buzzer sounded.

"It was surreal, it really was," Quinn said. "I'm just so happy I could do it for everyone else on the team. It's a great feeling."

"It's unlike anything else," Martin said. "We've worked so hard for this and it feels really good to see it pay off on the field."

Campbell scored a game-high three goals and sophomore attackman Caden Lucich scored twice. Little won 10 of 12 face-offs and senior goalie Brandon Desena made seven saves.

Senior midfielder Brody Muly had a goal and an assist while Kunz, junior attackman Ryan Aldi, and junior midfielder Pat Frost each scored once for Manasquan. Bounassi finished with 10 saves.

It was a tense contest from the opening whistle with neither team leading by more than one goal at any point. That was no surprise considering the teams played a similar game during the regular season when Manasquan earned a 6-5 victory on a goal by Muly in the final minute. CBA used the same strategy it did during an 8-6 win over Rumson-Fair Haven in the semifinals by sitting back in a zone defense and holding the ball for long, deliberate possessions on offense. The first quarter was scoreless until Frost scored off a pass from Kunz on a restart to beat the buzzer and give Manasquan a 1-0 lead.

Campbell tied it with an unassisted goal at 7:27, Manasquan answered on a goal by Muly at 4:55, and CBA tied the score again when Lucich hit twine off a feed from Santos with 2:20 remaining in the first half.

CBA pulled ahead for its first lead of the game with 5:04 left in the third quarter when Lucich tucked a bounce shot past Bounassi, and the Colts would hold that edge heading to the fourth quarter.

Manasquan netted the equalizer early in the third when Aldi got the crease and finished at the 10:36 mark. The Warriors then took a 4-3 lead on Kunz's extra-man goal, a low shot from the left wing that the Lehigh commit whipped past Desena. The stage was set for CBA's epic comeback.

"We kept our calm," Paragioudakis said. "I want to credit (junior defenseman) Luke Krebls. It started in the Hun game (a 10-7 win on May 6). We were down at halftime and he took the starters and said breathe in and breathe deep, two breaths, and we started doing that every single timeout and in between quarters. It helps us stay poised."


Bob Badders | rpbphotography.com
CBA senior defensive midfielder Packy Quinn avoids the check of Manasquan's Nick Carabetta for a successful clear. (Bob Badders | rpbphotography.com)

Clutch goals by Campbell in the final and by Martin in the semifinals along with the excellent work by Little at the face-off X highlight the box scores, but the catalyst for CBA's championship run was its defense. The Colts held Rumson and Manasquan to a combined 10 goals and allowed just 19 goals in four SCT games. They have allowed 5.9 goals per game this season and just three teams - Rumson during the regular season, Iona Prep (NY), and La Salle (Pa.) — have scored double-digit goals against them. They have high-end talent with Kelly and Krebs, who are committed to Harvard and Bryant, respectively, and a reliable senior in Paragioudakis joining them as close defenders. Junior LSM Jackson Gervais has had a great season along with junior defensive midfielder Michael Poskay, who transferred from Donovan Catholic where he played LSM last season. The Colts' secret weapon on defense, however, is Quinn, a lunch-pail-type player who has proven to be as important as any on their roster.

"He is the silent warrior," Santos said. "You don't see him in the stat book but he makes huge plays at huge times. He just does it all. He'll probably graduate with two career goals but you can make an argument that he's our most valuable player."

"I love it," Quinn said of the impact he makes as a defensive midfielder. "I don't care about getting any credit. That's all I care about (pointing to the scoreboard). That's what it comes down. That's all I need."

As the only head coach in program history, Santos has literally seen it all. When the Shore Conference Tournament began for boys lacrosse in 2005, the Colts were the kings of the Shore, winning the first two SCT titles and four of the first five. It took CBA nine years to make it back to the final, which it did in 2018 and 2019. Standing in its way were two juggernaut Manasquan teams that featured multiple Division 1 players, including New Jersey's all-time leading scorer, Canyon Birch. The Colts were still having great seasons and advancing to the SCT final four almost every year, but couldn't find a way to re-establish their grip on the Shore. Until now.

This is an emotional title for Santos for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that his son, Jack, is a senior starter.

"It makes it a little more special," Santos said while holding back tears. "The first one to hug me coming off the field was Jack. He knows how much this means to me and I know how much it means to him."

CBA will next turn its attention to the NJSIAA Non-Public A state tournament where they are the No. 5 seed and host Notre Dame in the opening round. The bracket is a gauntlet featuring four teams ranked in the top 10 in the state. Regardless of what plays out over the next few weeks, this CBA team has cemented its legacy as the group that brought the SCT championship back to Lincroft.

"We have those banners up on our home field and the last one says '09," Martin said. "It's going to be nice to see 2024 on there."


Bob Badders | rpbphotography.com
CBA junior defenseman Quinn Kelly (26) and senior goalie Brandon Desena (20) celebrate the Colts' 5-4 victory over Manasquan in the Shore Conference Tournament championship game. (Bob Badders | rpbphotography.com)

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