The 2017 Shore Conference boys lacrosse season is underway, and with it comes the first Shore Sports Network Top 10. We enter a new season with Rumson-Fair Haven as the reigning Shore Conference Tournament champion and Manasquan as the returning NJSIAA South Jersey Group II sectional champion. The defending division champions are: Christian Brothers Academy in Class A North, Southern in A South, Rumson in B North and Manasquan in B South.

Manasquan has a loaded group returning and, via its win over Rumson in last season’s sectional final, gets the top spot to start the season. The Bulldogs are right behind them and the pair are clearly the top two teams in the Shore. CBA is a known commodity and a consistent contender, but the Colts will be challenged for the A North throne by a veteran Freehold Township team.

Howell earned a key season-opening win over Southern to put itself right in the middle of the rankings, while the Rams have put together a tremendous five-year run and look to continue to play as one of the Shore’s best programs.

While Manasquan and Rumson appear to be in a class by themselves, it will all get settled between the lines in what is sure to be an exciting season at the Shore.

Lacrosse Top 10

Records through Monday, April 3.

1. Manasquan (2-0)

The reigning NJSIAA South Jersey Group II champions are off to an unbeaten start after holding off Freehold Township, 10-7, and dominating St. John Vianney, 17-6. Senior attackman Jarrett Birch has 10 goals in two games while sophomore Canyon Birch has nine goals. The Warriors are loaded from top to bottom and will score in bunches. With first-team All-Shore defenseman Kyle LeBlanc plus two standout goalies in Tom Pollock and Mike Lapoint leading a stout defense, Manasquan has the goods to win division, conference, sectional and group titles this season.


2. Rumson-Fair Haven (2-1)

After a season-opening loss to national power IMG Academy, Rumson has come back with consecutive 9-1 victories over rivals Southern and CBA. The defense, led by senior Emmett Jennings in front of goalie Conor Deverin, has been outstanding. A healthy Bryan Hess in the midfield is a major boost, and talented players who have waited their turn to start are eager to shine. An aggressive style brought by new head coach Marc Moreau has the Bulldogs flying out of the gate.


3. Freehold Township (2-1)

With a deep cast of returning starters the Patriots are looking to 2017 as a possible banner year. They were impressive in a 10-7 loss to No. 1 Manasquan and have two blowout wins over Red Bank and Jackson Memorial to start the season. The veteran attack line of seniors Josh Nastarowicz and Drew Dunn along with junior Chris Novella is among the best in the Shore. Dunn is off to a blazing start with 19 points in three games.


4. Christian Brothers Academy (0-2)

The Colts are winless to start the season, but considering those two defeats came to Don Bosco Prep and No. 2 Rumson it’s way too early to drop the Colts too far. CBA has won at least a share of every Class A North division title since realignment, so they earn the right to start in the top five. Senior attackman Nick Casner and junior attackman Michael Carroll are the go-to players on the offensive end while three-year starter Jack Koury leads the defense in front of senior goalie Ryan McGuiness.


5. Howell (2-0)

The Rebels opened eyes with an 11-9 win over Southern on opening day, then followed it up by holding off Brick Memorial in an 8-7 road victory to improve to 2-0. Senior attackmen Ryan Damelio and Drew Bukowiec have been very good early, as has senior midfielder Nico Lorenzo. Senior Jack Noone leads the defense with junior LSM Sean Mylod patrolling the midfield and providing help in the defensive end. Junior goalie Nick Roberto has a year under his belt and has been solid early on.


6. Southern (2-2)

The Rams already have as many losses as last season, but it’s not time to push the panic button in Manahawkin. Southern fell to No. 5 Howell, 11-9, on opening day and then lost to No. 2 Rumson, 9-1. Southern also has a 16-3 win over Holmdel and a 15-2 win over Jackson Liberty. Seniors Kyle Mulrane and Will Johnson are proven scorers who will continue to produce, and it looks like sophomore attackman Nick Fontana has emerged as a solid third option. Goalie Tristan Farina has picked up where he left off after a stellar junior season when he led the Shore in save percentage.


7. Brick Memorial (2-1)

The Mustangs have a large senior class looking to push them to the next level and challenge Southern for the Class A South division title. Seniors Gavin Murphy, Henry Moran, Mike Mowder and Zack Morton, plus junior Joey Ferrera lead the offense. Seniors Hunter Vojtko and Adam Plumacher are the leaders on the defensive end in front of first-year starting goalie Matt Wood. The Mustangs have lopsided wins over North Brunswick and Marlboro and an 8-7 loss to Howell where they were down 7-0 before scoring seven goals in the fourth quarter.


8. Wall (1-0)

Wall’s only game so far produced an 11-4 win over Colts Neck where junior attackman Mike McIntyre scored six goals. He and fellow junior Tim O’Hern lead the offense while Monmouth University-bound senior Joe Belko heads the defense.


9. Ocean (3-0)

Ocean was crushed by graduation, but the cupboard is far from bare with some veteran seniors and talented underclassman returning for the Spartans. Senior Sam Hanna and sophomores Mike Nies and Holden Lowe will guide the offense while standout junior Richie Bianchi spearheads the defense in front of senior goalie David Walk. Ocean has convincing wins over Marlboro, Toms River East and Middletown North to start the season and could very well be 6-0 before facing No. 2 Rumson on April 15.


10. Brick (2-0)

There were several candidates for the final spot in the rankings, and given the Dragons are undefeated we decided to give them the nod. A 7-6 win over Colts Neck sealed the decision, and Brick also has a 15-6 win over Middletown North. Mickey Holland leads the way with seven goals in two games.


Teams to watch: St. John Vianney, Toms River North, Colts Neck, St. Rose, Lacey.


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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