MANASQUAN – The question early this season is not whether Manasquan is the best team in the Shore Conference, but rather how big the gap is between the Warriors and everyone else.

It’s a multi-part question which won’t be fully answered for several weeks, but the early returns have been overwhelming. On Friday, Manasquan was presented with its biggest test of the season so far against one of its biggest rivals, and the Warriors turned in a perfect score.

Senior attackman Ryan Anderson scored a game-high five goals and senior attackman Canyon Birch tallied four goals and two assists as Manasquan, ranked No. 1 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, overpowered No. 2 Christian Brothers Academy, 15-4, in a Shore Conference nondivisional game.

“We always know they’re one of the best teams in the Shore so it’s good to get out here and test the waters early against a good team,” Anderson said.

“Any time we can take on CBA and have a game with them is phenomenal; they’re a great Shore Conference team,” Birch said. “We were all pretty excited in school about the game and we were firing on all cylinders.”

CBA scored the first goal 3:01 into the first quarter, but it was all Manasquan from there as the Warriors scored seven straight times to break the game open for good. Sophomore attackman Casey Mulligan added three goals and one assist and midfielders James Pendergist, Casey Campbell and Matt Franzoni each scored once to round out a balanced offensive showing.

“We know Canyon is one of the best players in the state and he draws a lot of attention with lock-offs and quick slides, and that opens up the game for the rest of us,” Anderson said. “I think this year we’re a lot better at creating space and moving to open spots on the field and finishing inside.”

“We’re confident in everybody we’re trotting onto that field. Our second- and third-line guys can all play and put the ball in the back of the net,” said Manasquan head coach Sean Cunningham. “The offensive production, in terms of balance, today was good to see against a team of (CBA’s) caliber.”

Birch's six-point game brought him closer to the Shore Conference career points record. Birch currently has 423 points, passing Southern's Dylan Jinks (420) for second in Shore Conference history and pulling to within nine points of breaking the mark of 431 held by CBA's Tommy Duerr. With 296 goals he also continues to move toward the state record of 362 held by A.L. Johnson's Matt Poskay.

Manasquan’s outstanding defense is often overshadowed by its offense, which is understandable considering it boasts the record-breaking Birch, Anderson coming off a 100-point season, standout two-way midfielder Pendergist and many more. Led by senior defenseman Jack Fabean, senior long-stick midfielder Mike Page and senior goalie Mike LaPoint, the Warriors’ defense was great in holding a solid CBA offense to just four goals.

Page followed CBA standout midfielder Kyle Aldridge all over the field and held the Colts’ offensive catalyst to one goal and one assist. CBA’s top attackman, senior Connor Macrae, also had one goal and one assist, as did sophomore attackman Dan Martin. Mike DeRosa scored CBA’s other goal. Manasquan had a 41-20 advantage in shots.

“We let up the first goal and I wanted to see how they’d react, and they reacted really well,” Cunningham said. “We were able to get our offense going and get on a run and we had good work at face-off X between Quinn Burns and Max Pauwels. (On defense) even when we go man-down we have a guy like Chris Farinacci who can go in there and do an exemplary job for us; Ryan O’Leary off the bench, as well. Every pole we have on this roster is very capable and certainly the guys out there a majority of the time (Fabean, Page, Tommy Shaughnessy and Mike Farrell) do a great job. And the defensive midfield, regardless of who we’re running through, a lot of credit goes to them, as well.”

Martin opened the scoring when he took a pass from Macrae and beat LaPoint at the 8:59 mark of the opening quarter. Manasquan answered with four straight goals to close out the first quarter and take a 4-1 lead into the second quarter. Pendergist tied the game when he dodged to open up space and blasted a shot past CBA goalie Noah D’Andrea. Mulligan gave Manasquan a 2-1 lead when he took a pass from Riley Callahan on the crease and scored to make it 2-1. His second goal, which came as he was being tripped by a CBA defender, made it 3-1 with 1:35 left before Birch scored unassisted with 1:05 left in the first.

Manasquan began the second quarter with 1:19 of extra-man opportunity time on the block, but Birch needed just 14 seconds to find the back of the net for his second goal to give the Warriors a 5-1 lead. Sixty-one seconds later, Anderson scored unassisted to make it 6-1 and 20 seconds after that, Anderson scored off a nifty pass from Birch to the crease to extend the lead to 7-1.

CBA was able to break Manasquan’s run when Aldridge took a pass from Martin and ripped one past LaPoint, but it did little to halt the Warrior’s progress. Less than a minute later, Anderson scored his third goal of the quarter off a pass from Mulligan to make it 8-2. Campbell’s goal at 6:34 pushed the lead to 9-2 and Birch’s third goal with 3:17 left in the half ballooned the advantage to 10-2 at halftime.

The pace slowed in the third quarter with CBA having the better of the possession time and putting two goals in, but Manasquan matched the Colts with two goals of its own to maintain a 12-4 lead heading to the fourth quarter. The Warriors scored all three goals during the final 12 minutes with Franzoni, Mulligan and Birch all sinking unassisted goals to provide the final 15-4 margin of victory.

“It was a busy week for us with Southern, then Wall, then CBA,” Cunningham said. “In my time here, those are usually three of the biggest games of the season. CBA today, a rivalry game, 1 vs. 2 in the Shore, a lot of these guys play together in the summer; they handled it well. With a veteran team that’s what you look for and hope for and today they delivered.”


Box Score

CBA (2-3)11204
Manasuan (4-0)462315

Connor Macrae, Kyle Aldridge, Dan Martin, Mike DeRosa; M: Ryan Anderson 5, Canyon Birch 4, Casey Mulligan 3, James Pendergist, Casey Campbell, Matt Franzoni.

ASSISTS – CBA: Connor Macrae, Kyle Aldridge, Dan Martin; M: Canyon Birch 2, Casey Mulligan, Riley Callahan, Mike Cielecki.

SAVES – CBA: Noah D’Andrea 10; M: Mike LaPoint 6, Carter Grozinger 1.

SHOTS: Manasquan, 41-20.


Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at 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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