Thrilling senior all-star game caps 2018 lacrosse season
FARMINGDALE – An initial look at the rosters gave the impression the North All-Stars had a decided advantage for Thursday’s Shore Conference Lacrosse Coaches Association Senior All-Star Game. But from the time they took the field for warmups, the South squad had other ideas.
“I think just looking at the rosters head to toe maybe we didn’t pop out at first, but we all know each other and have played with each other before so we had a lot of chemistry,” said Wall midfielder Will Forte. “We all came in right from the get-go and we knew we were the underdogs and just wanted to get down to business.”
Forte was selected as the game’s MVP after he took the reins of the South offense in the second half, scoring three of his game-high four goals, including two in the fourth quarter, to lead the way in a thrilling 14-13 victory at Howell High School. The South rallied from a four-goal deficit to tie the score at halftime, then pulled ahead in the third quarter before holding off a late charge by the North.
Toms River East attackman Sal Esposito and Wall midfielder Connor Prindiville each added two goals and one assist, Southern midfielder Ryan McWhorter scored twice and Brick midfielder Richie Cosgrove had one goal and one assist. Lacey goalie Justin Covey was the only backstop on the South roster and delivered an MVP-caliber performance with 11 saves. Jackson Liberty’s Max Matthies, St. Rose’s Shane Reilly and Brick’s Nick D’Eufemia each scored once.
CBA midfielder Luke Valentino had two goals and one assist and CBA attackman Mike Carroll, Red Bank attackman Seamus Cochrane and Rumson-Fair Haven attackman Wyatt Feinberg each scored twice. Holmdel midfielder Jack Kapcsos contributed a goal and two assists and Rumson’s Billy Garavente, Freehold Township’s Chris Novella, Holmdel’s Justin Arredondo and CBA’s Robbie Hermansen each scored once. CBA goalie Chris Downey made five saves and Howell goalie Nick Roberto made four saves.
The North all-stars led 5-3 after the first quarter and pushed the lead to 8-4 midway through the second quarter. The South all-stars began their rally when Forte scored unassisted with 3:44 left in the half. D’Eufemia then scored off a pass from Gannon at 2:03 and Esposito scored unassisted at 1:32. With 13.3 seconds left, Esposito set up McWhorter to tie the score, 8-8, heading to the break.
Novella and Carroll scored less than a minute apart midway through the third to give the North a 10-8 lead, but the South closed out the quarter with goals by Cosgrove, Forte and Prindiville to take the lead for good. Forte’s third goal of the game early in the fourth made it 12-10 before Arredondo halted the South’s four-goal run to cut his squad’s deficit to 12-11. McWhorter scored to make it 13-11 and Forte scored once more with 6:15 to play for a 14-11 advantage. That cushion allowed the South to absorb a goal by Hermansen at 6:00 and a goal by Feinberg with under a minute to play.
The end result made the day a bit sweeter for those on the victorious side, but Thursday’s all-star game was about more than a win or a loss. For players like Wall, Prindiville and teammates Mike McIntyre and Ryan Kellett, it was a chance to play one more game together after a memorable season. The Crimson Knights won a program single-season record 14 games, reached the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals and advanced to a state sectional semifinal for the first time in program history.
“It was so special to be with all my teammates and have one last hurrah and go out on a high note,” Forte said.
Several other players felt the same. CBA had its best season in 10 years and the Colts had five representatives on Thursday night, plus head coach Dave Santos. The Colts won 19 games, reached the SCT final for the first time since 2009 and reached the state semifinals for the first time since 2007.
“At the banquet, we were all kind of saying goodbye to each other so it was great to get one more time together,” Carroll said. “It felt really familiar. It was still me and Downey goofing around on the sideline, me yelling at Valentino and Robertson on the field and also getting to play with Robbie on the attack line.”
Carroll also reunited with some former teammates from the days before everyone went their separate ways in high school.
“It wasn’t just fun because I got to play with my teammates but the whole lacrosse community knew each other,” Carroll said. “My attack line here tonight, me, Seamus and Chris Novella grew up playing together. Everything came full circle.”
And for the players Carroll didn’t know coming in, he walked away with some great impressions.
“I met some Southern kids who were very, very, very nice and they were fantastic. I admire them most because they’re bigger guys and know how to use their bodies. Their players stuck out a lot.”
For other players, it was a chance to showcase their skills after playing their careers in relative anonymity for one reason or another. Leading the way in that regard is Neptune long-stick midfielder Chase Fairbanks. The Scarlet Fliers are a program that is still building and Fairbanks was the major reason for their grown over the past four years. A ground ball machine with stick skills and athleticism to match, Fairbanks was a second-team All-Shore selection this season and a player universally raved about by other Shore Conference coaches.
“I play summer lacrosse with all these guys and they’re on top teams and getting a lot of notoriety,” said Fairbanks, who will continue his career at Bellarmine University. “It can be rough but I just always made sure I put my best effort out there. Today I tried to showcase what I can do.”
Given Fairbanks’ talent, he could have opted to attend another high school in the Shore, but he never put any thought into leaving Neptune.
“The coaches treat me phenomenally there and we have such a tight bond,” Fairbanks said. “It was the coaches that kept me there.”
McWhorter wins fastest shot contest
Southern midfielder Ryan McWhorter won the MadDog fastest shot contest at halftime with a winning shot speed of 97mph, defeating Neptune LSM Chase Fairbanks in sudden victory.
Each player took one shot in the qualifying round with the top two shots advancing to the final. Wall’s Will Forte and Connor Prindiville were the clubhouse leaders at 91mph until Fairbanks unleashed a 94mph rocket with the long pole. CBA’s Mike Carroll then registered 92mph to jump into the top two, but McWhorter blew them all away with a 96mph blast as the third-to-last shooter.
McWhorter and Fairbanks each had three shots in the final round and McWhorter initially put up a 95mph result. Fairbanks tied him at 95mph on his final attempt to send it into sudden victory where McWhorter’s 97mph rocket gave him the win.
South wins Youth All-Star Game
Future Jackson Memorial player Matt DeRose won MVP honors with two goals and one assist to lead the South All-Stars to an 8-5 win over the North in the SCLCA Youth All-Star game, which featured some of the best eighth-graders in the Shore area.
Ryan Sininsky (Southern) and Zack Washco (Brick) also scored twice while Robert Pendergist (Manasquan) and C.J. Calafiore (Howell) had one goal each. Carter Grozinger (Manasquan) made two saves and Tyler Sininsky (Southern) had three saves.
Jamie Mazzacca (Shore), Kyle Kapcsos (Holmdel), Anthony DiMaio (Holmdel), Anthony Muniz (RBC) and John Lista (Rumson) had one goal each for the North. Aidan Kessler (Wall) and Nate Block (Middletown South) made two saves each.
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