RUMSON — The disappointing result of their first meeting this season set the emotional tone. Then the execution of a distinct gameplan helped Christian Brothers Academy earn redemption. Five weeks after letting a halftime lead slip away in a regular-season defeat to rival Rumson-Fair Haven, the Colts came through on the big stage to return to the conference title game.

Senior attackman Ryan Martin fired in three goals, all of which came during a four-goal third quarter that turned the tide, while the third-seeded Colts slowed the game at both ends of the field to surge past the second-seeded and three-time defending champion Bulldogs with a dramatic 8-6 victory in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals on Thursday night at Borden Stadium.

Trailing 4-3 at halftime thanks to a late goal by Rumson junior defenseman Frank Argilagos, CBA owned the second half with freshman face-off specialist John Little providing the spark that allowed Martin to record a hat trick, senior midfielder Cameron D'Alterio to score his second goal of the game, and junior midfielder Hunter Kilpatrick to sink a goal early in the fourth quarter for an 8-4 lead. Rumson trimmed its deficit to 8-5 on a goal by junior midfielder Grayson Goldin with 7:30 to play and again when senior midfielder Leo Passalaqua scored with 36 seconds remaining, but the Colts were able to hold on to end the Bulldogs' streak of three straight SCT titles.


Bob Badders |
CBA senior midfielder Jack Santos. (Bob Badders |

CBA will face Manasquan in the Shore Conference Tournament championship game at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 20 at Monmouth University. Top-seeded Manasquan defeated fourth-seeded Holmdel, 14-5, in the other semifinal on Thursday.

"We had a little fire under us from when we played them earlier," Martin said, referring to CBA's 14-9 loss to Rumson on April 12 in a game the Colts led 7-3 at halftime. "We were up at halftime and they came out firing, so we knew we had to stay on them. We prepared for this moment and we knew what we were up against."

"Entering this game we just tried to control the controllables," said senior midfielder Jack Santos, who paced CBA's offense in the first half and finished with two goals and two assists. "We played our game, which is slow, steady, and controlled lacrosse. It took the whole roster and overall it's a great team win."

CBA's defense yielded just two goals in the second half and was excellent in settled six-on-six sets. The Colts went to school on Rumson's previous games, notably a 7-2 loss to Summit on May 1 when the Hilltoppers' long offensive possessions and vaunted zone defense frustrated the Bulldogs and limited their possessions.

"We teach and preach the zone every season but we go game by game to decide whether we'll use it," CBA head coach Dave Santos said. "We just felt it gave us the best chance to win today."


Bob Badders |
CBA junior defenseman Luke Krebs. (Bob Badders |

"I think we prepared a lot better before (this) game," junior defenseman Luke Krebs said. "We watched a lot more film and came in as a team that knew we could make a name for ourselves. We loved being the three seed. After losing two close games to RFH and Squan it left a lot for us to prove. And I think the adjustments at halftime; last time we regretted not making some adjustments and this time we did and it ended up working out successfully."

CBA sapped over three minutes off the clock after Little won the game's opening face-off, but Rumson dug its heels in on the first possession and turned the ball the other way where senior attackman Jake Cahill scored off a pass from senior attackman Matthew Casazza 3:44 into the first quarter. CBA answered just over two minutes later when D'Alterio converted a pass from Santos, then senior midfielder Andy Croddick and his powerful shot gave Rumson a 2-1 advantage with a blast from the wing at 2:15. CBA knotted the score 2-2 with an unassisted goal by Santos with 16 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.

A transition goal by senior defenseman Brody Page 17 seconds into the second quarter then put Rumson ahead 3-2. Santos scored his second goal to tie the score at 6:10, but it was the Bulldogs who would head to the break with the lead thanks to a furious scramble for a ground ball that led to Argilagos scoring with 26 seconds left in the first half.

"At halftime we talked about that in our sixes on defense they would have trouble but in transition they're very dangerous," Dave Santos said. "We said just get in the hole and play defense. Let's not worry about trying to strip them up the field."

Dictating the pace of play was top of mind for CBA entering the second half. Their offensive possessions remained drawn out and the defensive unit of Krebs, junior Quinn Kelly, and senior Manolis Paragioudakis along with junior LSM Jackson Gervais and defensive midfielders Packy Quinn and Michael Poskay settled in the zone and stifled Rumson's offense.

"Every timeout, end of a quarter, halftime, we came together and we'd breathe," Krebs said. "And I think making yourself aware of where you are in the moment makes you settle down and play your game. I think Rumson was trying to make it hectic and we knew if we played our game we'd come out on top."

CBA's comeback began with its offensive fulcrum getting untracked. Martin scored with a rocket off a setup from Santos at 9:24 of the third quarter to tie the game at four, then put the Colts ahead with a goal at 4:11. D'Alterio dodged from seven yards out and scored to make it 6-4 and Martin completed his hat trick with a transition goal at 2:38. The three goals gave the Villanova commit 51 goals and 83 points on the season.


Bob Badders |
CBA senior attackman Ryan Martin celebrates one of his three goals in the Colts' 8-6 win over Rumson-Fair Haven. (Bob Badders |

"You can only keep great players down for so long," Dave Santos said. "You give him any kind of space and he's going to finish, and he proved that in the third quarter."

Little's work at the face-off X was crucial to the Colts' comeback. He finished the game 10-for-17 versus Rumson senior Luke Marascio with most of those wins coming in the second half.

"He's only a freshman but he plays like a senior," Dave Santos said. "The game turned at the face-off X. Little got us the possessions we needed."

Rumson went with a 10-man ride to begin the fourth quarter but CBA was able to beat it with a long pass to a wide-open Martin. His shot rang off the post as Rumson freshman goalie Seamus Gorman and an RFH defenseman tried to dive back to the cage to block the shot, and the rebound came right to Kilpatrick who was able to deposit it into the open net for an 8-4 CBA lead.

Rumson had life after Goldin's goal cut its deficit to 8-5 with more than seven minutes left in the game, but CBA stuck with its gameplan, received some well-time checks in transition, and held on to return to the Shore Conference Tournament final for the first time since 2019.

"We like to say we don't rise to the occasion, we fall back on our training," Dave Santos said. "When push came to shove and things got hectic we played smart where we didn't do that last time. We played a heck of a lot smarter this game and that was the difference."

After avenging one of their Shore Conference losses, CBA will try to do it again when it squares off with Manasquan in the SCT final. The two teams met on April 27 with Manasquan eking out a 6-5 victory with two goals in the fourth quarter. The two oldest lacrosse programs in the Shore have met three previous times in the SCT championship game with CBA winning 15-5 in the inaugural SCT final in 2005 and Manasquan taking the title with victories of 11-3 and 12-7 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. CBA's four SCT titles are second to Rumson's nine, but the Colts' last crown came in 2009.

"It's a game we want back," Krebs said. "There's mistakes we made that we can fix and definitely take this one back."

"I've been watching this rivalry my whole life and I think this is our year," Jack Santos said. "My dad and I talk about it at the dinner table every day, and we really believe it."

"The matchup is great," Martin said. "It was a very close game last time and it's definitely going to be a fun one. They're a great team and very well-coached, so I'm excited to get after it."


Bob Badders |
CBA senior defenseman Manolis Paragioudakis turns to the Colts fans to celebrate an 8-6 win over Rumson-Fair Haven in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals. (Bob Badders |

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