Lacrosse – Class A North Preview
Follow Bob Badders on Twitter for scores and news from around the Shore.
2015 SHORE CONFERENCE LACROSSE PREVIEW
CLASS A NORTH
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nick Casner, So., Attack, CBA
-Pumped in 30 goals and added nine assists as a freshman.
Andrew Halmi, Jr., Goalie, Colts Neck
-Caught fire late in the season to help the Cougars reach the SCT semifinals as the 12 seed.
Zack Ornstein, Sr., Midfield, Howell
-Merrimack College recruit scored 38 goals with 14 assists, picked up 120 ground balls and won 75 percent of face-offs.
Justin Russo, Sr., Attack, Middletown North
-Scored 37 goals with 12 assists for the Lions during their first year as a varsity program.
Billy Sasso, Sr., Midfield, Freehold Township
-York College recruit scored 21 goals and added 27 assists last season while winning 74 percent of his face-offs.
DIVISIONAL GAMES TO WATCH
Howell at Colts Neck, April 7
Freehold Township at CBA, April 11
Howell at CBA, April 17
Colts Neck at Freehold Township, April 21
CBA at Colts Neck, April 22
Freehold Township at Marlboro, April 22
Middletown North at Middletown South, April 22
Freehold Township at Howell, April 29
In alphabetical order
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS ACADEMY
Last season: 14-4; won Class A North; Shore Conference Tournament semifinalists; reached Non-Public A quarterfinals.
Head coach: Dave Santos, 17th season (214-82).
Top returners: Sophomore Nick Casner leads the offense after scoring 30 goals and adding nine assists during his freshman campaign. Senior Nick Gazzillo and junior John Salcedo each had 11 goals and five assists last season and provide experience in the midfield. Senior Joe Ventura anchors the defense in front of senior goalie Evan Bynoe.
Outlook: The Colts graduated 15 seniors from last season’s squad, so they are young and inexperienced, especially on the attack lines and defensively. Four of the top scorers graduated, including dynamic seniors Matt McGuinness and Thomas Deiner, along with face-off ace Tom Palisi. The development of the first-time starters will be key to the Colts repeating as A North champs and making deep runs in the Shore Conference and state tournaments. Casner was able to find room last year with teams focusing on McGuinness and Deiner, but he’ll garner much more attention this season.
Games to watch: April 11 vs. Freehold Township; April 13 at Rumson-Fair Haven; April 17 vs. Howell; April 24 at Don Bosco Prep.
Last season: 9-8; Shore Conference Tournament semifinalists; NJSIAA Tournament qualifiers.
Head coach: Jeff Rosenberg, 11th season (94-75).
Top returners: Junior goalie Andrew Halmi returns after a stellar season that included leading the Cougars to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals as the No. 12 seed. The Cougars are deep at goalie with senior Dan Callery, one of the team’s captains, also an option between the pipes. Senior Alex Peltzman leads the returning midfielders while senior captains Derek Price and Connor McGowan anchor the defense along with junior Nick Gargiulo. Senior Lucas Becce and junior Thijs Smit lead the returning attackmen.
Outlook: The Cougars made a Cinderella run to the SCT final four last season before losing to eventual champion Rumson-Fair Haven. Their top two leading scores, Andrew Anzalone and Rob Halmi, along with bruising defenseman Anthony Gargiulo (now at Navy for football) have graduated, along with 12 other seniors. How quickly a young team comes together will be key to contend in a division that includes Shore power CBA along with Howell and Freehold Township.
Games to watch: March 26 vs. Ocean; March 30 vs. Manasquan; April 7 vs. Howell; April 8 at Red Bank Catholic; April 13 vs. Red Bank; April 15 at Jackson Memorial; April 21 at Freehold Township; April 22 vs. CBA.
Last season: 10-6: Shore Conference Tournament qualifiers; NJSIAA Tournament qualifiers.
Head coach: Mike Ferrando, fourth season (32-16).
Top returners: Senior midfielder Billy Sasso, a York College recruit and third-team SSN All-Shore selection last season, returns as the team’s leading scorer after netting 21 goals and adding 27 assists while winning 74 percent of face-offs. Senior attackman Brandon Nunez pumped in 18 goals with 21 assists last season and senior middie John Poole also scored 18 goals. Junior Matt Lach (13 goals) and sophomore Drew Dunn (six goals) join Nunez on the first attack line. Senior defenseman Mike O’Brien, an all-division pick, leads the defense along with senior Collin Bitsko and senior defensive midfielder Matt Pine.
Outlook: The Patriots graduated some scoring but return the versatile Sasso, who upped his scoring as a junior while continuing to be one of the Shore’s top FOGOs. He could be in a line for a big season. Nunez also could be in store for a big scoring season, and Dunn should approach 20 goals or more after seeing time as a freshman. The defense looks solid with O’Brien, Bitsko, senior Mike DeBaere and junior Ty Sebor along with Pine at LSM. Billy Patten and Matt Schroepfer are the goalies with the starter yet to be determined. The Patriots again look like a team that will be competitive with the top teams in A North and should be in the mix for runs in both the conference and state tournaments.
Games to watch: March 25 at St. John Vianney; April 1 at Manasquan; April 8 at Holmdel; April 11 at CBA; April 15 vs. RBC; April 17 vs. Southern; April 21 vs. Colts Neck; April 27 vs. Red Bank; April 29 at Howell.
Last season: 9-9; qualified for Shore Conference Tournament; qualified for NJSIAA Tournament.
Head coach: Anthony Bonjavanni, third season (20-17).
Top returners: Senior attackmen Mark Buannic and Jake Sherman, both of whom were second team all-division picks by the coaches last season, lead the offense. Sherman scored a team-leading 45 goals last season while Buannic led the Rebels with 66 points. Senior Zack Ornstein, a Merrimack College recruit and another second team all-division selection, banked 38 goals and won 75 percent of face-offs last year patrolling the midfield. Senior Ryder Verdoni and junior Nick Rossi complete a solid first line of middies. Senior Anthony Pozsonyi anchors the defense.
Outlook: The Rebels return eight starters and are poised to make a run at the A North title while pushing deep into the Shore Conference and state tournaments. Howell has a whopping 15 seniors, with Rossi as the only non-senior starter, so this is a team built to win now. Buannic and Sherman along with senior Matt Marsh comprise the starting attack line with Ornstein, Verdoni and Rossi in the middle. Senior Cameron Perrotto is the defensive midfielder with Pozsonyi, senior Colin Mastowski and senior Frank Lamela leading a fast and athletic defense. Senior Ian Colmorgan steps in as the starting goalie.
Games to watch: April 7 at Colts Neck; April 17 at CBA; April 29 vs. Freehold Township.
Last season: 7-11; NJSIAA Tournament qualifiers.
Head coach: Alex Sinkovich, second season (7-11).
Top returners: Senior Ben Metzger anchors the team from his midfield position while senior Brandon Hanley is back in goal after emerging as the Mustangs’ No. 1 netminder last season. Sophomores Chris Kelly and Tim Dwyer should be in for bigger contributions after playing on the attack line as freshmen.
Outlook: The Mustangs graduated leading scorer Chris Coyle, now at Delaware Valley, along with specialist Brian Prestigiacomo. Both were second team all-division selections last season. Overall, the Mustangs will need to find consistency and someone to step up and fill the scoring gap left by Coyle to contend in Class A North and chase a berth in the SCT.
Games to watch: April 8 vs. Wall; April 11 at Howell; April 17 at Middletown South; April 22 vs. Freehold Township; April 25 vs. Colts Neck; April 29 vs. Middletown North.
Last season: 5-14; first season as a varsity program.
Head coach: Ryan Hilla, second season (5-14).
Top returners: The Lions return three 20-goal scorers led by senior attackman Justin Russo, who sank 37 goals last year along with 12 assists. Junior attackman Bryan Flannigan scored 28 goals as a sophomore. Senior midfielder Chris Fisher contributed 20 goals and a 13 assists last season while senior middie Tom Terranova finished with 20 points. Junior Hayden Fairhurst had 88 ground balls last season and returns to anchor the Lions’ defense.
Outlook: It’s all about making progress in the Lions’ second year as a varsity program, and with a roster comprised mostly of juniors and seniors they’re in position to do so. They play in a tough division with potentially four teams that could be ranked in the top 10, but if they can get to the postseason those games should serve them well.
Games to watch: March 30 at Freehold Township; April 8 vs. Point Boro; April 15 at Toms River East; April 22 at Middletown South; April 29 at Marlboro.
Last season: 5-11; first season as a varsity program.
Head coach: Frank Finochio, second season (5-11).
Outlook: Like their crosstown rivals, the Eagles will look to make progress in their second season at the varsity level. Lacrosse has exploded in Middletown with great numbers in the youth levels, so it seems like a matter of when, not if, the Eagles will field a successful squad. The Eagles and Lions split games last season with South winning 5-4 on April 8 and falling 12-7 on May 10. This year’s game on April 22 is no doubt circled on the calendar.
Games to watch: March 25 vs. Lacey; April 2 at Jackson Liberty; April 15 vs. Point Boro; April 22 vs. Middletown North.
Last season: 1-12.
Head coach: Rob Schulte, second season (1-12).
Outlook: The Scarlet Fliers look to rebound in the second season under Robert Schulte, but have a tough division in which to do it in. They have several teams on the schedule similar to them in terms of experience, so an improvement in wins could be in the cards this season.
Games to watch: March 31 vs. Long Branch; April 20 at Union City; May 12 vs. Point Boro.