Colts team anxious to defend its SCT title

first_imgBY GEORGE ALBANO Staff Writer BY GEORGE ALBANOStaff Writer CBA lacrosse coach Dave Santos like to tell people how his team always wins the Shore Conference championship. Of course, the Shore just started to play championship games in lacrosse last year and Christian Brothers Academy won the inaugural contest. “We’ve won it every time they had it,” Santos said with a chuckle. But this year’s CBA team is serious about defending that title and keeping its “streak” intact. In fact, the Colts should be the favorite going into next week’s Shore Conference tournament. Coming into this week, CBA, which hadn’t played since last Monday, was unbeaten in conference play and could have wrapped up the top seed in the tournament with a win at St. Rose on Monday. The Colts conclude the regular season with a game at Red Bank Catholic on Thursday and a home contest against Hunterdon Central on Saturday. Then it’s onto the postseason. “The Shore Conference tournament begins next Monday and we should be No. 1,” Santos, in his eighth season, said over the weekend. “We’ll know for sure on Monday after we play St. Rose.” CBA hopes to be playing in the championship game next Friday before heading into the state tournament the following week. The Colts were 8-4 overall coming into this week, and all four losses were close and against formidable opponents. One was an 8-7 setback against Lawrenceville, one of the top teams in the state. “That was a great game,” Santos said. “Our defense kept us in it, and we had a chance to tie it with five seconds left.” In its season opener, CBA lost 6-5 to Princeton, “another top-10 team,” Santos said. The other two losses, 9-6 to Morristown and 7-5 to Chatham, also came against quality opponents. “We’ve been in every game,” Santos said. “We play a tough schedule, which is good for us because when we get to the postseason we’ll have experience with that kind of competition.” The Colts were 18-4 a year ago, losing to Seton Hall Prep in the second round of the Non-Public Group state tournament. That was also a rematch of the 2004 Group IV state championship game which Seton Hall Prep also won. But CBA lost quite a bit of offense from last year’s team, starting with Tommy Duerr, the Colts’ second all-time leading scorer who’s now playing at Johns Hopkins, one of the top college programs in the country. “He averaged 109 points a season for us,” Santos pointed out. With Duerr graduating, Santos was expecting senior captain Alex DeAlmeida, the team’s second-leading scorer last year with 80 points, to become the key man on offense. But in a game the first week of the season DeAlmeida took a hit and damaged his spleen, knocking him out of the lineup. “He only played one game,” said Santos, who hopes to have him back on the field in time for the postseason. “He’s going to the doctor this week and he may be cleared to play.” So how does a team replace nearly 200 points on offense? “With our two leading scorers from last year missing, that left a big hole in our offense,” Santos agreed. “But one of our other senior captains, Josh Orchant, has picked up the scoring slack.” Indeed, Orchant, a midfielder and 50-point scorer a year ago, had 27 goals and 15 assists so far this season to lead the team. “He was our third leading scorer last year,” Santos noted, “but he’s been our go-to guy this year. It’s an odd situation when a middie leads the team in scoring, but we’re pretty young on attack.” In fact, junior Liam Thomas is the only returning starter on attack and had 25 goals and 13 assists in the first 12 games. “He was our third attack as a sophomore last year,” Santos said. “He was in the background while Tony (Duerr) and Alex (DeAlmeida) put in all the goals. “But when Alex went down, we needed someone on attack to step up his game and Liam has improved a heck of a lot.” The rest of the attack, however, is new this year with junior Jonathan Lubas at one spot, and sophomore Robbie Napp and junior Joey Jordan alternating at the other. “All of them are improving every game, but it takes a while,” Santos explained. “Outside of Liam, the others are all new and had no varsity experience coming into the season.” The Colts also have four new starters on defense with junior Brendan Duffy in goal, and senior Dennis O’Connor, junior Joey Zales and sophomore Tim McMenamin as defenders. “Being new, they were a little shaky at the beginning of the season, but they’re really coming on now,” Santos said. “They’ve kept us in just about every game.” Defense has been one of the reasons for the CBA’s success. The other has been faceoffs, in particular Max Cabasso, the third senior captain. “He’s been winning I’d say at least three-quarters of our faceoffs,” Santos said. “He’s been a big help and he’s solid defensively. Just like Josh [Orchant] is our go-to guy on offense, Max has been our strongest defensive middie.” And after six days off, the Colts came into this week ready for what they hope will be a good stretch run. “We’re confident about the Shore Conference tournament,” Santos said. “There are some quality teams that could surprise us, but if we play well we should be OK. “The state tournament could be a little tougher,” he added. “Delbarton is in our group and they’re perennially one or two in the state. And Seton Hall Prep, who have been our nemesis, they’re in our group, too. So, we’ll have a tough go in the states.”last_img

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