NJSIAA Boys Lacrosse Group 4 Championship Preview: Southern Regional vs. Bridgewater-Raritan
NJSIAA BOYS LACROSSE GROUP 4 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
WHO: Southern Regional (16-3) vs. Bridgewater Raritan (16-3)
WHEN: Wednesday, June 1, 5 p.m.
WHERE: Feeney Field at Shore Regional High School - 132 Monmouth Park Hwy, West Long Branch, NJ
SOUTHERN'S ROAD TO THE STATE FINAL: Defeated Toms River North, 21-3, in the South Group 4 first round; defeated Old Bridge, 13-2, in the quarterfinals; defeated Howell, 12-4, in the semifinals; defeated Lenape, 7-4, in the sectional final.
BRIDGEWATER'S ROAD TO THE STATE FINAL: Defeated Passaic Tech, 23-1, in the North Group 4 first round; defeated Montclair, 11-8, in the quarterfinals; defeated Ridgewood, 9-6, in the semifinals; defeated Hunterdon Central, 10-6, in the sectional final.
SOUTHERN'S CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: 4 sectional titles, 0 group titles
BRIDGEWATER'S CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: 6 group championships (1998, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016).
SOUTHERN'S BEST WINS: 13-2 over Holy Spirit; 5-4 over Ocean City; 13-1 over Clearview; 9-7 over Shore; 12-4 over Howell; 7-4 over Lenape.
BRIDGEWATER'S BEST WINS: 8-7 over Pingry; 15-10 over Ridge; 12-6 over Bernards; 11-8 over Montclair; 9-6 over Ridgewood; 10-6 over Hunterdon Central.
SOUTHERN'S PROJECTED STARTERS/KEY RESERVES
-Ryan Sininsky, Sr., A: 31 goals, 18 assists
-Jack Kolbe, Sr., A: 47 goals, 23 assists
-Hayden Lucas, Jr., A: 16 goals, 31 assists
-Joey DeYoung, Jr., M: 39 goals, 17 assists
-Jake Washco, Sr., M: 29 goals, 17assists
-Zach Washco, Sr., M: 28 goals, 9 assists
-Kurt Falk, Sr., FOGO: 177-for-263, 53%
-Chris Laureigh, Sr., LSM
-Nate Committee, Sr., D
-Brock Lefkus, Sr., D
-Ty Smith, Jr., D
-Tyler Sininsky, Sr., G: 146 saves, 73%
-Jake Cornelius, Sr., A: 8 goals, 2 assists
-Shea Hillie, Sr., A: 10 goals, 1 assist
-Anthony Arch, So., SSDM: 3 assists
-Noah Keenan, Sr., SSDM
-Xander Murray, Jr., SSDM
-Mitch Bivona, So., SSDM
-Konnor Forlai, So., A: 7 goals, 7 assists
BRIDGEWATER'S STAT LEADERS/KEY PLAYERS
-Brady Kurdyla, Sr., A: 59 goals, 38 assists
-Colin Kurdyla, Jr., M: 63 goals, 23 assists
-Matt Maciolek, Jr., M: 25 goals, 28 assists
-Kyle Holmes, Sr., A: 33 goals, 10 assists
-Tom Tremarco, Jr., A: 17 goals, 18 assists
-Matt Cuzzola, Sr., FOGO: 111-for-122, 91%; 79 ground balls
-Daine Kostes, M/FOGO: 79-for-111, 71%; 6 goals, 9 assists, 61 ground balls
-Will Kasica, Jr., G: 105 saves, 53%.
-Matt Bratus, Jr., LSM/D
-Luke Cifuentes, Jr., D
-Ryan Harper, Sr., D
-Nichlas Jankowski, Sr., D
-Jonathan Mock, Sr., D/LSM
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Bridgewater-Raritan is the favorite for a variety of reasons, but Southern has a veteran roster that played in the Group 4 title game last season and won't back down from the challenge. The Panthers have won six overall state titles and are led by longtime head coach and New Jersey lacrosse legend Chuck Apel. Southern is coming off the fourth sectional title in program history and will be trying to win the program's first state championship.
The winning formula for Southern starts in goal with senior Tyler Sininsky. A four-year starter who is committed to NJIT, Sininsky is consistent and steady every time he takes the field but usually provides much more than that. If he can set the tone early and the rest of the Rams follow, Southern should be in position to keep it close throughout the game. Southern's defense was excellent in the postseason last year and has done it again this tournament with senior defenseman Nate Committee leading a group that also includes poles Brock Lefkus and Ty Smith, LSM Chris Laureigh, and defensive midfielders Noah Keenan, Anthony Arch, Xander Murray, and Mitch Bovina. They will try to contain a Hunterdon Central offense led by Rutgers commits Colin and Brady Kurdyla, who have combined for 122 goals and 61 assists.
Since senior attackman Ryan Sininsky was able to return full-time after battling an injury for much of the season, Southern's offense has been much more consistent. He, along with senior attackman Jack Kolbe, junior attackman Hayden Lucas, junior midfielder Joey DeYoung, and senior midfielders Jake and Zach Wascho, comprise the Rams' main offensive six.
In last season's Group 4 final, Southern hung tough with Hunterdon Central before the Red Devils pulled away in the second half. The Rams' offense got off to a slow start in the sectional final vs. Lenape but likely won't be able to pull the same type of comeback if they let Bridgewater grab a sizeable lead early. A strong start will be key for the Rams.
It's going to take timely goals and another great performance on defense and in goal for Southern to win its first state title. The Rams have the ability to do exactly that on Wednesday evening. The question is, will they?