Unsung: Key role players help CBA hold off St. Peter’s Prep in Non-Public A quarterfinals
MIDDLETOWN – The most prominent trait of Christian Brothers Academy’s lacrosse team is probably its surplus of reliable scorers, but the Colts’ defense is pretty darn good too, and on Wednesday they came through in a clutch moment to lead CBA to a state tournament victory.
The Colts allowed only one goal during a three-minute, non-releasable penalty in the third quarter to avoid a potentially disastrous scenario, then received a momentum-changing goal from sophomore long-stick midfielder Dillon Quinn to propel them to an 11-7 win over sixth-seeded St. Peter’s Prep in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Non-Public A Tournament.
CBA advances to the state semifinals for the first time since 2008 and will play at second-seeded Seton Hall Prep in the Non-Public A semifinals on Friday at 1 p.m.
Leading 8-6 early in the third quarter, senior face-off specialist Nick Robertson won the draw cleanly and went down and scored to give CBA a 9-6 lead. But directly after the goal, St. Peter’s Prep requested a stick check on Robertson. Pretty much every face-off stick is going to be deformed into illegal dimensions by the time the second half comes around, so it was shrewd move the Marauders coaches. Robertson’s stick was indeed illegal, which wiped out the goal and put him in the penalty box for three minutes regardless of whether St. Peter’s Prep scored. CBA allowed only one goal on one shot, however, to remain in front, 8-7.
“When we took that three-minute, non-releasable and I brought the defense in along with senior goalie Chris Downey and said we just have to take deep breaths and take our time,” said senior defenseman Ryan Tierney. “After they scored I knew we needed to kill of the rest because if they scored it’s a tie game, and then it’s a brand-new ball game.”
The Colts (19-1) got through the penalty with its lead still intact and with three minutes left in the third quarter Quinn gave CBA a huge lift. The Colts had just killed off a 30-second penalty when St. Peter’s Prep tried a quick pass across the box that was intercepted by Quinn. He cleared the ball himself and when the defense did not close in on him he went all the way in for a goal to give CBA a 9-7 lead.
“That was the biggest play of the game,” said CBA head coach Dave Santos. “I was more impressed with his pick in the defensive zone but then the patience to go down and read what the defense gave him – nobody slid – and that goal was huge. It turned the game around.”
“Quinn has been great for us all year,” Tierney said. “He’s been one of the biggest guys on our team who doesn’t get mentioned a lot.”
Senior midfielder Chris Junquet scored early in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 10-7 and senior defensive midfielder Thomas Convery added an empty-net goal with 2:54 to play.
Senior attackman Robbie Hermansen led the CBA offense with two goals and one assist while junior attackman Connor Macrae and senior midfielder Luke Valentino each scored twice. Junquet and senior attackman Michael Carroll each tallied one goal and one assist while Robertson, Quinn and Convery had one goal each and freshman Kyle Aldridge had two assists. Downey backed up the CBA defensive effort with four saves.
Wednesday’s win highlighted the depth of CBA’s roster and the impact its unsung players have had all season. Quinn’s goal along with the transition play of Convery and Luke Grover and the two-way effort form the Junquet brothers, Chris and Kevin, in extended minutes were monumental.
“Luke Grover and Thomas Convery, our D middies, they’re very rarely on the scorebook but every game they leave it on the field,” Santos said. “No one really understands how important they are to our team but the coaches staff does and today was no different.”
“The other two today were the Junquet brothers, who did all the little things offensively and defensively. Those guys were difference makers today. They are invaluable. Both have great lacrosse IQs and you saw that in the fourth quarter with their decision making. They don’t care about scoring goals, all they care about is the team winning and I’ll take those guys on my team any day of the week.”
CBA jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter as Macrae and Valentino scored in the first two minutes and Hermansen scored at the 6:49 mark. Ryan Kirkwood got SPP on the board at 3:40 but CBA responded with goals by Robertson and Hermansen to take a 5-1 lead. Christian Della Rocco scored with 19 seconds left to cut CBA’s lead to 5-2 after the first quarter.
Macrae gave CBA a 6-2 lead early in the second quarter but SPP would go on to score three of the final four goals of the first half to trim CBA’s advantage to 7-5 at halftime. The teams traded goals in the first 3:30 of the third quarter leading into the three-minute penalty.
Now the Colts will take their shot against the electric offense of Seton Hall Prep. The Pirates are 18-2 with their only losses coming to Delbarton and Summit. Seton Hall is averaging 17.2 goals per game and has scored 20 or more goals nine times. They enter the semifinals off a 19-6 win over St. Joseph (Montvale) in the quarterfinals.
“We’re pumped and we look forward to these games," Tierney said. “Upsets can happen. I know technically it’s only a one-seed difference but everyone knows how big Seton Hall is in terms of state rankings. We know what’s coming for us but we believe that if we play to the best of our ability we shouldn’t have any difficulties. We’re playing a great team which has great coaches but we’ll be ready.”
“We’re 19-1 and some people may say our schedule is light, but now we have a chance to go up against one of the top two teams in the state you could argue,” Santos said. “We’ll take our chances.”
CBA 11, St. Peter's Prep 7
SPP (13-6) 2 3 2 0 -- 7
CBA (19-1) 5 2 2 2 -- 11
GOALS -- SPP: Will Vespole 3, Christian Della Rocco, Ryan Kirkwood, Andrew Williams, Colin Williams; CBA: Robbie Hermansen, Connor Macrae, Luke Valentino, Mike Carroll, Thomas Convery, Chris Junquet, Dillon Quinn, Nick Robertson.
ASSISTS -- SPP: Christian Della Rocco 4, Will Stevens 1; CBA: Kyle Aldridge 2, Mike Carroll, Luke Grover, Robbie Hermansen, Chris Junquet, Connor Macrae.
SAVES -- SPP: Liam Brown 9; CBA: Chris Downey 5
SHOTS: CBA, 27-16
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.