LONG BRANCH – As the No. 1 ranked team in the Shore Conference and the No. 5 team in New Jersey, Christian Brothers Academy is obviously strong in several facets of the game. Two of the Colts’ biggest strengths – scoring depth and senior leadership – were on display when it mattered most in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals.

Trailing by one late in the third quarter following a rally by Rumson-Fair Haven, top-seeded CBA scored eight straight goals in a span of nine minutes to overtake the fourth-seeded Bulldogs and come away with a 14-8 SCT semifinal victory on Thursday afternoon at Long Branch High School. Junior attackman Connor Macrae scored six goals, senior midfielder Luke Valentino tallied three goals and one assist and senior goalie Chris Downey made 10 saves, including six in the fourth quarter, to send the Colts back to the SCT championship game for the first time since 2009.

CBA will face Manasquan in the SCT championship game at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Monmouth University’s Hesse Field. It will be a rematch of a regular-season game won by CBA, 6-4.

CBA (16-0) opened a 6-3 lead in the second quarter before Rumson responded with four straight goals, including the first three of the third quarter, to take a 7-6 lead. But in the final 68 seconds of the third quarter the Colts fired in three goals to pull in front, 9-7, then added five consecutive goals to begin the fourth quarter to put the game away. Freshman midfielder Kyle Aldridge added two goals and two assists, senior attackman Robbie Hermansen had a goal and three assists and Mike Carroll and Luke Grover each scored once.

“We just had to stay together,” Macrae said. “We definitely got punched in the mouth and we had to come back.”

"We are dangerous offensively and have so many different weapons, and today was typical of that," said CBA head coach Dave Santos. "Lacrosse is a game of runs and we just happened to get lucky and get on a good run there."

A goal by Rumson’s Patrick Jamin gave the Bulldogs (10-9) a 7-6 lead with 6:32 remaining in the third quarter, and from there CBA was able to reverse the momentum by making some defensive adjustments that slowed down Rumson and also allowed its offense time to go on a run. Senior face-off specialist Nick Robertson also gave the Colts a spark by going 16-for-26 on face-offs, including winning four straight at the end of the third quarter to start the rally.

“We just had to rely on our seniors and stick together,” Macrae said. “Coach says all the time the seniors lead us and we’ll go as far as our seniors. They’ve been great this year and that’s one of the big reasons why we’ll be playing on Saturday.”

“It starts with (defenseman Ryan) Tierney and Downey in the back, the two seniors,” Santos said. “We were getting scored on and we’re not used to that. Our defense usually holds teams to three or four goals and that wasn’t happening today, but we made a slight adjustment in the defense. Tierney has been even-tempered in all situations this year and he and Downey didn’t panic. They trusted the system and they prevailed.”

Rumson, which had its run of nine straight SCT championship-game appearances snapped, is having a down year by the lofty standards it has set over the years. An exceptionally challenging schedule against many of the state’s best teams coupled with a young roster made for a slow start, but the Bulldogs have grown and remained a team nobody was looking forward to facing in the postseason.

“We knew they were missing guys and maybe they didn’t start the season off great but they’re still talented and well-coached,” Valentino said. “Even though they’re young we knew we couldn’t take this team lightly.”

“They’re well-coached and I knew (Rumson head coach) Marc (Moreau) would have them prepared,” Santos said. “There’s a reason they played that tough schedule so in games like this they’d be prepared. Even though they’re young you can see it. They played smart and they finished their chances, and we expected that. We knew it wasn’t going to be a pushover.”

CBA jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening eight minutes as Valentino scored two unassisted goals and Hermansen set up Macrae. Rumson came back with two goals by taking advantage of a CBA penalty. Sophomore midfielder Kiel Forlenza scored off an assist from Wyatt Feinberg on a delayed penalty and Drew Shaw then scored off a dish from William Sullivan for an extra-man opportunity goal with 38 seconds left in the first quarter. Robertson won the ensuing face-off, however, and Hermansen scored nine seconds later to give the Colts a 4-2 lead after the first 12 minutes.

Early in the third quarter, Rumson pulled to within one again as Jamin set up Harry Ricker for a goal to make it 4-3. CBA had an answer just over a minute later as Carroll made a power move to the crease and scored unassisted. Carroll then assisted on Macrae’s second goal to give CBA a 6-3 advantage. A one-man clear by senior midfielder Peter Lucas caught CBA in transition and allowed Jamin to get free for a goal with 2:31 left in the half to cut Rumson’s deficit to 6-4 at the break.

The Bulldogs came out moving the ball with speed and confidence in the third quarter to take their first lead of the game. Ricker scored to make it 6-5, then Forlenza blasted a low shot pass Downey off a feed from Jamin in transition to tie the score at six with 7:49 left in the quarter. Just over a minute later, Jamin ripped a shot from about 15 yards out past Downey to give Rumson four straight goals and a 7-6 lead.

CBA’s comeback began with Macrae scoring his third of the game off a pass from Hermansen for an EMO goal with 1:08 left in the third quarter. Robertson won the next face-off and CBA moved quickly into the zone where Carroll fed Macrae for the go-ahead goal with 52 seconds left. With 18 seconds remaining in the quarter, Valentino scored his third of the game off a pass from Aldridge to give CBA a 9-7 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

Rumson was called for a slashing penalty with three seconds left in the third quarter and CBA was able to capitalize on the man advantage when Aldridge scored off a pass from Hermansen. Goals by Macrae and Aldridge followed to push the lead to 12-7 before Macrae scored his sixth of the day off an assist from Kevin Junquet to increase CBA’s lead to 13-7. Grover, a defensive midfielder, even got in on the scoring with an unassisted goal with 2:27 left to make it 14-7.

Shaw broke CBA’s scoring streak with an EMO goal with 1:42 to play but the damage had already been done by the Colts.

Now it’s round two versus Manasquan where the Colts will be looking to bring home their fifth SCT title and first since 2009.

“All year we’ve kept our sights forward and went one game at a time,” Valentino said. “We just have to play together and play it like it’s a regular game.”


Box Score

Christian Brothers Academy 14, Rumson-Fair Haven 8

Rumson (10-9)  2 2 3 1 –  8

CBA (16-0)        4 2 3 5 – 14

GOALS – RFH: Kiel Forlenza 2, Drew Shaw 2, Patrick Jamin 2, Harry Ricker 2; CBA: Connor Macrae 6, Luke Valentino 3, Kyle Aldridge 2, Mike Carroll, Robbie Hermansen, Luke Grover.

ASSISTS – RFH: Patrick Jamin 2, Wyatt Feinberg, William Sullivan; CBA: Robbie Hermansen 3, Kyle Aldridge 2, Mike Carroll 2, Luke Valentino, Kevin Junquet.

SAVES – RFH: Sean Bunnell 5; CBA: Chris Downey 10.

SHOTS: CBA, 26-25.


Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.


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