Shore Sports Network Boys Lacrosse Preseason Top 10
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered sports worldwide, especially at the high school level. For athletes who play spring sports in New Jersey, it cost them everything. The 2020 season came and went without a single game being played.
Here were are a year later and the sun is back out, both literally and figuratively. Life is beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels, restrictions surrounding athletic competition are lessening and athletes are back on the field representing their high schools for the first time in nearly two years.
On April 19, lacrosse returned to the Shore Conference. Finally, we’re back.
There are traditions that go with every season and the Shore Conference Top 10 is certainly one of the most noteworthy. Now it’s time for this year’s version. Pressing the rewind button back to 2019, Manasquan reigned as the Shore Conference Tournament champion and captured another South Jersey Group 1 sectional title, Christian Brothers Academy won Class A North and reached the SCT final, Rumson-Fair Haven reached the South Jersey Group 2 final, Shore Regional authored its best season in program history and Wall continued to push its way into the Shore’s elite. Manasquan’s Canyon Birch, now a redshirt freshman at Penn State, became New Jersey’s all-time leader in goals and points.
Unsurprisingly, the 2021 season features some familiar teams at the top. Despite graduating a generational senior class in 2019 and more talented players in 2020, Manasquan is re-stocked with playmakers up and down the field, including a stout defensive unit. Rumson has one of New Jersey’s best players in senior Patrick Jamin and has already picked up a marquee win this season. CBA has a strong defensive core led by goalie Noah D’Andrea and one of the Shore’s top scorers in senior Dan Martin. Wall is led by senior Rutgers commit Logan Peters and showcased its offensive firepower in its season-opener.
The question, as it has been seemingly every year, is which teams, if any, can challenge the blue bloods and who will round out the top 10. There is always a ton of movement in the bottom half of the rankings and this season figures to be the same.
Shore Sports Network Boys Lacrosse Top 10
1. Manasquan (2019: 21-1, B North champ, SCT champ, SJ-1 champ)
The names Manasquan has graduated over the past two years represent a who’s who of Shore Conference lacrosse but the cupboard is far from bare for the Shore’s original lacrosse program. The Warriors will be celebrating year 30 in 2021 and once again have championship aspirations. Senior attackman and UPenn commit Casey Mulligan and senior defenseman and Richmond commit Mike Farrell lead a deep and talented roster that also includes Loyola-bound defenseman Dylan LeBlanc, Colgate-bound defenseman Ryan Bilello, Quinnipiac commit FOGO Max Pauwels, midfielders Mike Farinacci (Stevens Tech) and Robert Pendergist and more. Manasquan has some teams hot on its tail but starts the season as the team to beat. Squan buried No. 10 Red Bank Catholic, 18-1, to start the season.
2. Rumson-Fair Haven (2019: 14-10, SCT QF, SJ-2 finalist)
The Bulldogs return a strong group of seniors and some promising juniors and sophomore under veteran head coach Marc Moreau and will once again be among the best teams in all of New Jersey. Senior midfielder Patrick Jamin, who will play both lacrosse and football at Middlebury, leads the way after a 70-point sophomore season and is in line for a huge year. Yale commit Christian Bockelmann, a junior attackman, will make his presence felt sooner than later and senior attackman Luke Devlin returns after popping 39 goals as a sophomore. Senior Jack Joyce leads the defense in front of standout senior goalie Ryan Croddick. Rumson already has a huge win under its belt after opening the season with a 9-4 win over state-ranked Chatham
3. Christian Brothers Academy (2019: 13-7, A North champ, SCT finalist)
The Colts return just three starters under 23rd-year head coach Dave Santos but have multiple returners who saw plenty of playing time in 2019 as well as some very promising newcomers. The Colts’ defense is their strongpoint with senior Noah D’Andrea in net and senior poles Cooper Graham, Aidan Quinn, Aidan Richter and John Emilio patrolling the defensive zone. Senior face-off specialist Jared Lucich is arguably the best in the entire conference and will look to give CBA’s offense, led by Villanova commit Dan Martin, plenty of possessions. Monmouth commit Terrance Lacewell is one to watch in the midfield along with sophomore attackman Ian Macrae. The Colts lost to prep power Lawrenceville, 11-6, in their season opener but had several positive highlights to take away from the defeat.
4. Wall (2019: 11-4, SCT QF, SJ-2 QF)
Former assistant Victor Rivera takes over as the Crimson Knights’ head coach after Chris Knight, the first and only previous coach in program history, resigned following the 2019 season. Rivera inherits a team loaded with offensive weapons that is looking to make a championship run in 2021. Senior attackman and Rutgers commit Logan Peters is back to lead the way after a 97-point sophomore season and is joined by junior midfielder and Army commit Matt Dollive, senior midfielder Ryan Brice, senior attackman Daniel Burns, senior FOGO Kyle Wenzel, sophomore attackman John McCurry and sophomore midfielder Connor Moore. Junior Charlie Sasso, the reigning SSN Football Defensive Player of the Year, spearheads an athletic and physical defense in front of junior goalie Aiden Kessler. Wall scored an impressive 16-6 win over No. 5 Southern in its first game.
5. Southern (2019: 14-4, A South champ, SCT SF, SJ-4 SF)
The Rams have carried the banner for Ocean County for some time now and enter the 2021 season having won seven straight Class A South division titles. Last year was the first time in seven years they didn’t reach the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals so they’ll look to get back to their usual place among the Shore’s elite. A sturdy defense looks to be Southern’s early strength with junior Bellarmine commit Nate Committee and three-year starting LSM JT Hille in front of junior goalie and NJIT commit Tyler Sininsky. Junior Ryan Sininsky, also heading to NJIT, leads the offense with senior attackman Luke Bruther and junior midfielders Zach and Jake Washco, who transferred from Brick, and senior face-off specialist Drew Wasacz. The Rams took one on the chin in a 16-6 loss to No. 4 Wall to open the season, but the Rams are always well-coached under John Pampalone and should only get better as the season progresses.
6. Howell (2019: 11-8, SJ-4 QF)
This is where the top 10 starts to gets tricky. We’ll go with the Rebels here based on their key returners at all three levels. Senior attackman and Chestnut Hill commit James Fay leads the offense with junior midfielders Tyler Burns and Doug MacKenzie among the Shore’s candidates to have breakouts seasons. Versatile senior Theo Deberghes returns as Howell’s long-stick middie and leads the defense along with Shayne Hughes. Junior Colin Fay steps in as the Rebels’ starting goalie. They opened the season with an 18-0 win over Toms River South.
7. Middletown South (2019: 11-5)
Former Holmdel head coach Sal Guastella takes the reins at Middletown South as the Eagles look to continue their upward trajectory after finishing No. 8 in the Shore in 2019. Senior attackman/midfielder Jason Allen and senior defenseman Tyler Colacichi lead the way. Allen scored 21 goals and eight assists as a sophomore. Colacichi was a third-team All-Shore selection as a sophomore and is one of the top returning defenders in the Shore. Middletown South has senior depth, as well, especially in the midfield with Matt Dunphy, Tyler Wisniewski, Mark Tardy, Matt Mauro and Hunter Knice (LSM).
8. Jackson Memorial (2019: 11-5)
The Jaguars return nine players who either started or played significant minutes in 2019 and will look to challenge Southern for the Class A South title. Senior midfielder Drew Walenty scored 20 goals, added 14 assists and picked up 71 ground balls as a sophomore and junior attackman Matt DeRosa had 12 goals, 9 assists and 46 ground balls as a freshman. They lead the offense along with junior face-off midfielder Charlie Harrison. Senior defensemen Ryan Rankin, Sean Peruggia and Tim Salisbury and junior Mike Rauch anchor the defense in front of senior goalie Chad Szatkowski. The Jags opened the season with a 12-3 win over St. John Vianney.
9. Red Bank Catholic (2019: 10-10)
The Caseys have the potential to take a big step forward in the second year under head coach Don Femminella. Senior face-off specialist Steve Albanese, senior goalie Jack Bilancione, junior midfielder Anthony Muniz, junior defenseman Jack Foote and sophomore defenseman Nick Cosimano are the top returners for RBC. Sophomore midfielder Torin Harmon comes over as an impact transfer from Shore Regional and gives the Caseys a player who can excel in all game situations. RBC had the tough draw of facing No. 1 Manasquan in the first game and suffered an 18-1 defeat, but it’s hard to know what to make of that just yet. With several quality teams in Class B North, the Caseys will have the chance to prove their case.
10. Shore (2019: 15-2, B South champ, SCT semifinalists, SJ-1 semifinalists)
Shore had the best season in program history in 2019 but most of the roster from that team has graduated, including first-team All-Shore middie Gil Goldsmith, All-Shore attackman Jake Turner, All-Shore middie Jack McCrae, All-Shore defenseman Ryan Dolan, standout LSM Jake Shirley, versatile middie Terry Carlstrom and starting goalie Scott Sirianni. It’s a lot to replace but the Blue Devils still have some talent on the roster and one of the conference’s best head coaches in Gregg Malfa. Standout junior midfielder Jamie Mazzacco and senior face-off specialist Sean O’Brien lead the way. Mazzacco had 27 goals and 15 assists as a freshman and can impact the game offensively and defensively. O’Brien is the Shore’s leading returner in terms of face-off percentage (.727) and ground balls (150) from 2019. Senior Zac Mansfield, junior Andrew Decker, sophomore Aidan Murphy and freshman Sam Madalone round out a strong midfield. Sophomore Hunter Walker takes over as the starting goalie.
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