You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Favorite, contenders in every 2022 boys lacrosse state tournament title race

NJ.com logo NJ.com 5/17/2022 Mike Kinney, nj.com
Ellis Wilson (45) of Gill St. Bernard's tracks the ball against Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Ellis Wilson (45) of Gill St. Bernard's tracks the ball against Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

The state playoffs start on Wednesday and in a few weeks, eight teams will have sectional championships in their grasp. There are also six overall group titles up for grabs this spring.

Below, NJ Advance Media breaks down the top contenders in each section as well as the teams to watch in both non-public brackets. Scroll through to get a full look at the 2022 state tournament.

Max Voight (25) of Gill St. Bernard's tries a behind the back shot against Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Max Voight (25) of Gill St. Bernard's tries a behind the back shot against Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

NORTH, GROUP 1

FAVORITE: Mountain Lakes (12-1), the reigning Group 1 champion, has reeled off seven straight victories since a 12-6 loss to No. 1 Don Bosco Prep, including an 8-7 triumph over Delbarton last Tuesday for the Lakers’ second straight Morris County Tournament title. This club flaunts scoring balance on offense with attackmen Reid Tietjen, Bradford Goodbar and Kevin Gillespie and middies Cade Schuckman, Caz Kotsen and Jimmy Elliot. The quick and durable Hernando brothers, senior Justin and sophomore Jordan, handle the faceoff duties, and Jimmy Holda and Matt Sentowski split halves in the goal game and they occupy that spot with equal effectiveness. The Mountain Lakes defense started off the season reasonably strong and only appears to be solidifying further behind the leadership of Ryan McLaughlin, Lucas Sawransky and Gavin Ananian.

Gavin Collins (7) of Gill St. Bernard's tries to get past Matt Wallen (22) of Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Gavin Collins (7) of Gill St. Bernard's tries to get past Matt Wallen (22) of Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

CONTENDERS: Glen Rock (12-3) stands as proof positive that a matchup against a superior opponent can be a beneficial experience when applied correctly. After losing to top-ranked Don Bosco Prep, 16-3, in the Bergen County Tournament quarterfinals, Glen Rock defeated Glen Ridge, Tenafly and Mahwah in succession by a cumulative score of 39-17 to end the regular season. Opponents will have to deal with prolific senior middie Will Consoli, who has 63 goals this season and recently topped 100 points for his career. Robbie Drace, Colin Redmond and Conor Olendike contributed widely to that offensive splurge.

Westwood (14-3) earned a significant victory last Tuesday by defeating Ramapo, 5-4, for the first time in program history, though did drop its third one-goal loss of the season two days later against Paramus, 4-3. Westwood found balance against Ramapo with one goal each from Tom Linaris, Luke Biello, Kirk Simeonidis, Jon Ruff and even defenseman Tobias Ballester, and received an excellent outing in the cage from senior Drew Golden. He made 16 saves against Ramapo, one being the 400th of his career.

Jefferson (14-4) sports one of the youngest lineups in the NJILL, yet has conducted its season with a surprising sense of maturity. Among those youngsters are freshmen twins Calen and Jamison Reid, whose dad, Scott, is the head coach. Jamison is starting goalie and Calen is the club’s leading scorer with 80 points. Another freshman, Aidan Fitzsimmons is one of the team’s top defensemen. Fifth-seeded Jefferson opens against Lenape Valley, a squad it defeated, 6-2, on April 23. Junior Vinnie Leppard led the scoring with two goals and one assist, and Calen Reid had one goal, one assist.

Ramsey (8-6), the No. 3 seed, looks to get back on track after losing three of its last four games and four of the last six to end the season. The Rams are capable of a bounceback with playmakers Aidan Clark, Dillon Kelly and JJ Phillips, and senior goalie Jack Jacobus.

SOUTH, GROUP 1

FAVORITE: Caldwell reached the North, Group 1 final last year with a number of current standouts playing sizable roles, such as playmakers Peter Murray, Luke Kurzum, Jack Goldbach and Harry Boland, goalie Pasquale Cappozzoli, FOGO Spencer Day and defensemen Jack Kenyon. The Chiefs fell to Lakes, 11-3, in that game, but gained experience throughout that lengthy postseason run that will certainly prove beneficial here. Caldwell obviously is less familiar with the competition this year, though that competition isn’t exactly well versed on all the Chiefs’ tendencies, either. Nick Silverthorne, JT King and Jake Gruzas help Kenyon anchor the defense for Capozzoli. The steady offensive spark of Murray (48 goals, 27 assists) has helped Caldwell (10-6) win six of its last seven games.

Ellis Wilson (45) of Gill St. Bernard's reacts after defeating Governor Livingston in the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Ellis Wilson (45) of Gill St. Bernard's reacts after defeating Governor Livingston in the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

CONTENDERS: Haddonfield is one of the best teams in South Jersey overall and proved it with wins over Cherokee, Eastern Lenape, Ocean City and Shawnee so far this spring. Delaware commit Finn Morgan is dynamic on attack and he leads a group that also features Blaise Coley, Asher Conrey and Nolan Tully. Haddonfield has a balanced offense and that makes it hard to slow down this team. The defense has played really well all season and will need to step up in the playoffs if this team is going to make a run at the title in 2022. Zachary Laperriere and Johnny Mink are two veteran leaders on that end of the field. Haddonfield has two goalies it can count on with Wyatt Ay and Ryan Foley both playing well in net. Christopher Worton has been solid at the faceoff X and Haddonfield could have an edge there down the stretch.

Aidan Linde (5) of Governor Livingston looks to pass against Michael Scarpati (26) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Aidan Linde (5) of Governor Livingston looks to pass against Michael Scarpati (26) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

Shore is one of the best teams in the Shore Conference and playing some tough competition in the regular season will have this team ready for the state playoffs. Carson Cooke and Jamie Mazzacco are the leaders of the offense, but sophomores Sam Madalone and Carson Spallone have come on strong this year and made the offense even more electric. Walker Hunter anchors a defense that has played well this season and will be a strength in the next few weeks. Shore has two rookies that split faceoffs duties and it will need those young players to compete.

Bernards has played a tough schedule and it’s been an up-and-down year for this team. The Somerset County squad is talented though. Harry Kauffman and David Brothers have become the go-to players on offense and will need to step up when the playoffs start on Wednesday. Senior Nick Paterno is the veteran leader on defense and if he is locked in, this team can play with anyone. Sophomore Trever Sardis is a talented FOGO and will be counted on here.

Charles Gilpin (77) of Governor Livingston looks to pass against Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Charles Gilpin (77) of Governor Livingston looks to pass against Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

Madison (9-6), seeded eighth, faces ninth-seeded Johnson in a rematch of their 2021 first-round clash won by Madison, 9-4. Johnson will surely recall sophomore Matt Spagnoletti and junior Will Clifford when they spot them; Spagnoletti netted three goals in that victory and Clifford had two goals and two assists. Senior Luke Denison helps those two conduct the offense for the Dodgers.

New Providence (13-4) won six of its last seven games, including one-goal thrillers against Cranford and Roxbury in the last week of the regular season. The Pioneers’ only loss in that stretch was an all-around gutty effort against No. 8 Summit, 7-1, in the Union County Tournament semifinals. Seniors Charlie Barth, Charlie Sarlund and Owen Forbes, and surprising freshman TJ Munn pace the offense for New Providence. EJ Reitter, Ben Gullo, Shane Cook and Joe Vignali anchor the defense.

NORTH, GROUP 2

Aidan Linde (5) of Governor Livingston tries to move the ball past Daniel Taylor (22) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Aidan Linde (5) of Governor Livingston tries to move the ball past Daniel Taylor (22) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

FAVORITE: Summit (12-2) is traveling a path very similar to last year, when it claimed the Group 2 title and reached the Tournament of Champions final before falling to Don Bosco Prep, 11-7. The offensive isn’t quite as explosive as last year’s group, though the defense compensates by allowing just 4.0 goals per game. Jude Avelino, Carter Shallcross, Jordan Lowry, Rhett Grieco, Jonty Hodges, Thomas Kohaut and Michael Sajer operate that stingy zone, with steady senior goalie Will Kein backing them up. Senior attackman Dylan Sebastian is the team’s crafty quarterback at X, John Murray creates trouble for opposing goalies with his scorching shot, and Colin Beatty, Daniel Flaim, Lucas Stocks and Jake Lowry all chip in to the offense. The Hilltoppers have won seven straight games since a 12-11 loss to Scotch Plains-Fanwood last month. One of those wins came against Westfield, 13-2, last Monday for their fourth straight Union County Tournament crown.

Matt Wallen (22) of Governor Livingston tries to get past Patrick Henderlong (9) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Matt Wallen (22) of Governor Livingston tries to get past Patrick Henderlong (9) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

CONTENDERS: West Essex (15-2), ranked No. 12, has thus far defeated everyone on its schedule but No. 3 Seton Hall Prep. It most recently fell to the Pirates, 9-6, last Tuesday in the Essex County Tournament final, though rebounded two days later to top No. 16 Scotch Plains-Fanwood, 8-6, for the NJILL-Waterman Division championship. One of the surprises of this season has been the prolific scoring of freshman attackman Anthony Drago, who has produced 53 goals and 29 assists. Far less surprising has been the strong faceoff work of his senior brother, Michael, and the steady play of teammates such as Rocco Garcia, Jack Massotto, Reece Molinaro, Andrew Adams and goalie Connor Coughlin.

West Morris is just 8-9, though has made enough progress in recent weeks to present itself as at least a darkhorse in this section. Junior Brandon Edwards has developed as a reliable faceoff man (winning 62 percent), and that is almost always a position of strength for the Wolfpack. They were 14-5 last season with then-senior Logan Hart dominating at X. The defense has made appreciable strides this season behind Mike Spaziano, Brayden Fuller, Scott Van Woert and veteran goalie Zach Byank. Trevor Hillier and Vinnie Desiderior lead the offense.

Sparta (12-4) will be looking for similar results in the first round against Roxbury as it achieved in their regular-season battle with the Gaels April 12. The Spartans won, 9-5, behind the balanced scoring of Aidan Wood, Mason Lindsay and Ryan Rossi, who each scored twice, and the sturdy defensive play of senior Paul Gennat and his crew. Junior goalie Joe Buono turned away 10 shots that day. Sparta reached the semifinals last year, where it fell to Summit.

West Milford, seeded No. 7, opens tournament play against a Pascack Valley team it defeated just one week ago, 10-7. Aidan Bolger, Dylan Connors and Ashton Stymacks spearheaded the offense while fellow senior Ralph Turre controlled business at the opposite end of the field with 18 saves. That game came just three days after the Highlanders had edged Wayne Hills, 4-3, for their first Passaic County Tournament title. Seniors Jason Donohue and Matt Kochan led a stubborn defense that day along with Turre, who closed with seven saves.

Wayne Valley (11-4) was upset by Wayne Hills, 4-2, in the Passaic County Tournament semifinals, but bounced back to finish out the regular season with tight wins over Ramapo, 9-8, and Tenafly, 12-10. Fourth-seeded Wayne Valley has won eight of its last 10 games behind the offensive leadership of senior Collin Rovere (48 goals) and the assistance of Alex Scheuplein, Jason Sykes and Ryan Schmitz. Juniors Cole Wolford and Jack Lavner have been standout defenders.

Mendham (7-7) has come a long way since opening the season at 1-3, though admittedly against a very ambitious early schedule. The sixth-seeded Minutemen take a four-game winning streak into the playoffs thanks to the reliable offensive play of Jack Wadley (42 goals), Tim LaRosa and Tristan Aitkenhead and sturdy defense from the likes of John Holtz and Merit Perrin.

SOUTH, GROUP 2

FAVORITE: Rumson-Fair Haven is a team whose only in-state losses have come in one-goal games against Top 10 teams. This squad is one of the elite teams in the state and the Bulldogs are the favorite to take home the sectional title. Yale commit Cole Cashion has been amazing this season and he’s proven that he is one of the most skilled offensive players in New Jersey. The junior leads an attack that also leans on Tommy French, Philip Passalaqua, Connor Spagnuola and Quinn Stankovits. That group has been dynamic all season. Brown commit Matthew Bockelmann and Villanova commit Beau Kemler are the veteran leaders for a defense that has been able to hold teams to 3.6 goals per game this season. Junior William Setteducate has played well in net as a first-year starter. Rumson-Fair Haven has mixed up what it has been doing on faceoffs all season and that has not seemed to have an effect on this team’s success so far. This bracket will have the same type of feel as the Shore Conference Tournament with Manasquan and Wall in the field.

CONTENDERS: Manasquan has played well all season, but it will need to figure out how to beat Wall and find a way to get the best of Rumson-Fair Haven if those two teams match up. Manasquan beat Wall the first time those two teams played this season, but then lost the rematch in the Shore Conference semifinals. James Farinacci is the best offensive threat on this team, but he will need players like Blake Gorski, Brody Muly, Robert Pendergist and Matt Porazzo to step up as well in the biggest games of the year. Quinnipiac commit Max Pauwels is the best FOGO in the Shore Conference and his ability to win possession for Manasquan will be huge. The defense can be really good when it’s at full strength, but that’s been tough to achieve in 2022. Carter Groezinger and Nick Bounassi have both earned time in net this season for the Warriors.

Wall has all the pieces to go out and win the sectional title, but it needs to come up with a way to get a competitive edge on teams like Manasquan and Rumson-Fair Haven. The offense has two of the best scorers in the state with Rutgers commit Mat Dollive and Navy commit John McCurry leading the attack. Connor Moore and Jack Meyer have emerged as well as scoring options that Wall can count on. Denver commit William Carr and Monmouth commit Dominick Giglio are the headliners on a defense that also relies on the play of senior Charlie Sasso and sophomore Michael D’Amico. That group has the ability to help Wall turn things around in the playoffs. Semior Aiden Kessler has been reliable in net all season and will be counted on now. Rookie Michael Hoarle earned the starting spot at the faceoff X a week into the season and he’s played well there ever since.

Hopewell Valley (13-3) had generated a 10-game win streak before falling to Hun, 13-10, last Thursday in the Mercer County Tournament final. Many encouraging signs came from that loss, however, such as the continued productivity of senior attackman Louis Azara. He sank five goals in that contest and has scored 16 in the last five games. Surprising freshman Luke Caldwell paces this offense with 34 goals, followed by senior Lucas Gaissert and junior Jacob Sanderson with 30 apiece.

Somerville is a well-coached team that has seen some of the best teams in the state by playing in Somerset County all spring. This group will look to break through and shake up the Shore Conference vibe here. Juniors Lorenzo Varona and Collin Williamson are go-to players on offense along with sophomore Michael Perrino. Sophomore Anthony Pieroni has played well in net and brings a lot of energy to the field. This is a younger team, but Somerville has a good squad and you can’t sleep on them once the playoffs roll around.

Delran has grown to practically assure itself of faceoff possession through the consistent excellence of senior Seamus Schofield. The Hobart commit has won 93 percent of his draws this season and 82 percent over the past four years. Those won clamps also often result in points as he enters the tournament with 45 goals and 44 assists. Delran’s offense also has senior Alex Stanuikynas (59 goals) and Aidan Schreder (38).

Allentown (11-4) is hoping to return to early-season form, when the Redbirds won eight of their first nine games. The hardware is in place with steady junior faceoff man Walter Zhao (.878 win percentage) getting things started, and seniors Jake Searing (65 goals, 31 assists) and Jake Raff (38 goals, 58 assists) capable to capitalizing on Zhao’s efforts. The defense has allowed an average 14 goals in the last three games. Attention in that area will be crucial.

Alex Sepe (5) of Gill St. Bernard's puts a spin move on Lucca Napoli (55) of Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Alex Sepe (5) of Gill St. Bernard's puts a spin move on Lucca Napoli (55) of Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

NORTH, GROUP 3

FAVORITE: Scotch Plains-Fanwood (14-3) lost back-to-back heartbreakers against 14th-ranked Westfield, 11-9, in the Union County Tournament semifinals, and 12th-ranked West Essex, 8-6, but rebounded Saturday with a 15-8 win over Howell in preparation for the playoffs. That’s a scene the Raiders know well, as many were regulars for the team that lost to Chatham last spring in the sectional semifinal, 9-7. Among the proven veterans are FOGO Ethan Filler, who has won 68 percent of his faceoffs, goalie Ale Lo (.567 save percentage), and offensive standouts Mikey Kloepfer (58 goals, 34 assists), Matthew Power and Jake Monroy. Scotch Plains hopes to have senior middie Chase Alber back in the lineup after he’d missed the last six games with an injury. Seniors Ben Root, Isaiah Nathaniel and Connor Jablonski anchor the defense.

CONTENDERS: Northern Highlands (9-6) fell out of the most recent Top 20 following a 10-6 loss to unranked Bergen Catholic, yet looked more like the explosive team that had occupied a spot by defeating River Dell, 15-3, two days later behind the sturdy defense of Sean Fox, Jack Murray and Charlie Johnson, and the balanced scoring of Brian Buonoi, Kyle Feltmann, Chris Bacich, Ben Scrivanich, Andrew Barlas and Aidan Mulvey.

Grayson Moore (18) of Gill St. Bernard's fires a shot against Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Grayson Moore (18) of Gill St. Bernard's fires a shot against Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

Chatham (7-8) has been sub.-500 all season, yet has played competitively enough against some of the best teams in the state to warrant a good, close look as a team with playoff potential. The Cougars lost to No. 6 Delbarton, 5-3, No. 8 Summit, 9-6, and No. 14 Westfield, 7-3. Senior goalie Ryan Boyd has helped keep Chatham in the hunt along with defensemen Luke Ehler, Michael Park and Jeffrey Burke. Cullen Decker, JP Lagunowich and Teddy Manitta spark the offense.

Millburn (13-2) won eight of its last nine in the regular season, capping it with a significant victory over Caldwell, 13-12, on Saturday. The Millers built a big lead through the playmaking of Zack Lipton, Ethan Shapiro, Dylan Ah Now and Zachary Evanchick, and then had just enough defensively to hold off a furious rally attempt by the Chiefs. James Geller, Quetin Kuehn and Jake Rosenberg contribute to that defense.

Lucca Napoli (55) of Governor Livingston moves the ball past Michael Scarpati (26) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Lucca Napoli (55) of Governor Livingston moves the ball past Michael Scarpati (26) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

Randolph (10-8) has won six of its last nine games with the help of a strong junior class headed up offensively by Stefan Swedlund (53 goals) and Tyler Holland, and defensively by Aidan Flowers, Jake Coombs and Ryan Novak. There is no absence of senior leadership, either. Sean Lawless and Andrew Novak contribute widely to the offense along with FOGO Aidan Matheny.

Mount Olive (12-4) would love to replicate its first meeting this season with Princeton (its first-round opponent), but may find that difficult without attackman Kyle Schiller. He erupted for six goals in that 13-9 victory April 9, but sustained an injury several days later that has kept him out of the lineup. Fellow sophomore Adam DeCrisofaro struck for four goals and four assists that day and continues to be an offensive spark along with seniors Nick Reda, Sean Carroll and Cooper Anderson.

Princeton (9-6) was unable to stop Mount Olive attackman Kyle Schiller in their first battle this season (6 goals in a 13-9 Mount Olive win), but won’t have to in this opening-round clash; Schiller is out for the season with a knee injury. Mount Olive may have its own issues with senior attackman Will Doran, who has racked up 53 goals and 67 assists this season for Princeton. He’s produced 33 goals, 38 assists to steer the Tigers to six wins in the last eight games. Sophomore Patrick Kenah and freshmen Brendan Beatty and Braden Barlag have been surprisingly steady offensive sources.

SOUTH, GROUP 3

FAVORITE: Shawnee is once again front and center in the championship race in this section. The Renegades lost in the final on the road a year ago, but as the top seed, this team will get to play home throughout the sectional playoffs. Delaware commit Ethan Krauss is one of the most well-balanced offensive threats in the state and he leads this attack along with senior Nate Sears. Shane Conlon is another trusted option on a team full of them. The defense is solid this spring thanks in large part to the play of Sam Beamer, Vaughn Feudtner, Freddie McAneney and Tom Sanson. Jimmy Potter has been impressive as well this spring.

CONTENDERS: Clearview did a good job picking up key wins late in the season that will set this team up for success. As the No. 2 seed in the bracket, the Pioneers will get to host if they make it to the sectional semis and that would be big if they draw defending champion Ocean City. Mario Leone has been putting up jaw-dropping numbers the last two seasons and he will be one of the state’s top scorers heading into the playoffs. Riley Burns and Conner Reagan have stepped up too on offense and given Clearview even more pop. Senior Vittorio Gramaglia anchors a veteran defense that will look to set the tone the deeper into the playoffs that this team goes.

Ocean City has not backed away from a challenge the last few years and that has helped this team in the playoffs. The defending South, Group 3 champion is ready to get back out there and make a run at the title again. Pat Grimley is the heart and soul of the offense, but he will need other players to step up around him in the biggest games of the year. Ocean City has struggled to score against the better teams on its schedule. That will need to change here. Jack Davis, Dom Guerrera, John Moyer and Nick Volpe will all be counted on. Junior Dylan Dwyer will also be an X-factor and his play at the faceoff X could swing a game in the Red Raiders’ favor. Kyle Hendricks, Ryan Ireland, Paul Tjoumakaris and Jake Wilson are a few of the veteran players on the defensive end that will buckle down late in the year. Junior Winfield Dunn has been solid during his first year as a starter.

Moorestown’s schedule has been daunting, but all of that experience will give this team a good chance to turn some heads in the playoffs. Jack Gerber, Cole Pitcher, Danny Winkler and Chase Young will need to spark the offense in order for this team to make a deeper run and pull off a few upsets. Senior goalie TJ Mindnich will also have to play a leading role.

Will Deo (2) of Gill St. Bernard's fires a shot against Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Will Deo (2) of Gill St. Bernard's fires a shot against Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

Northern Burlington was touched up for 17 goals last week in a loss to Hopewell Valley, but rebounded to end the regular season with convincing wins against Cinnaminson and Lawrence. Versatile senior middie Guy Hendrickson and sophomore attackman Ben Cohen pace the offense for the Greyhounds with help from Chris Byles and others. Junior goalie Clark Norway enters the tournament with a .719 save percentage.

Steven Manfreda (9) of Governor Livingston moves the ball past Michael Scarpati (26) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Steven Manfreda (9) of Governor Livingston moves the ball past Michael Scarpati (26) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

NORTH, GROUP 4

FAVORITE: Hunterdon Central is the last undefeated team in the state and it knows what it takes to play against the best squads in this section. The defending Group 4 champion beat Westfield by a goal and rallied late in a win against Bridgewater-Raritan. Hunterdon Central will be ready for every challenge that this bracket has to offer. Maryland commit Sean Creter is one of the best all-around players in the state and he might be the best FOGO. The junior dominates at the faceoff X and also can go forward and lead the attack. Dylan Johnson has been the team’s leading scorer again this season and scored some clutch goals. Seniors Chris Bill, Owen Bill, Vinnie Devito and Brendan Lehrer have also stepped up this year and made Hunterdon Central impossible to beat. Senior Dillon Baehr came on strong last season and has been just as good this spring. Hunterdon Central has all the pieces to win the sectional title again.

Steven Manfreda (9) of Governor Livingston tries to get Michael Scarpati (26) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Steven Manfreda (9) of Governor Livingston tries to get Michael Scarpati (26) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

CONTENDERS: Bridgewater-Raritan has all the tools to go out and win the sectional championship this season. Rutgers commits Brady and Colin Kurdyla are star scorers and it will be hard for defenses to find ways to stop that duo from ripping shots into the back of the net. Add in Kyle Holmes, Matt Maciolek and Tom Tremarco and you can see why this team was so dominant in Somerset County this spring. Junior goalie Will Kasica is the anchor of a tough defense that also features Matt Bratus, Luke Cifuentes, Nichlas Jankowski and John Mock. Bridgewater-Raritan has lined up a couple guys at the faceoff X this season and no matter who gets the call in the playoffs, the Panthers will need to be competitive there to stay in stride with the best teams here.

Ridgewood (9-6) ended the regular season with two straight losses, though may find those setbacks to No. 1 Don Bosco Prep and No. 8 Summit to be useful lessons for the state playoffs. The 13th-ranked Maroons almost had Summit, too, losing in overtime, 7-6. Don’t forget, Ridgewood is still the only team to have defeated Don Bosco over the last two years (7-6 to open this season), so it can not be overlooked under any circumstance. Cole Cunningam, Ryan Gess, Cole Dawkins and Owen Staunton anchor a hard-nosed defense that is backed by steady senior goalie Colin LaForty. Will Messineo, John Dunphey, Matt Lia and Miles Dubois pace the offense.

Westfield will be looking to tighten up its defensive play after eking out an 11-9 win over Scotch Plains-Fanwood and then losing to Summit and Delbarton by a cumulative score of 26-6 to close out the regular season. Trey Brown, Eric Webb, Trey Constantinou and Jonathan Boufarah anchor that defense for junior goalie Quinn Wojcik. The Blue Devils’ offense also looks to regroup following those setbacks behind Ryan Waldman, Cody Lam, James Haley and Anthony Buoscio.

Robert Herrington (1) of Gill St. Bernard's fires a shot against Sebastian Gratson (8) of Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Robert Herrington (1) of Gill St. Bernard's fires a shot against Sebastian Gratson (8) of Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

Ridge will have a tough draw as the No. 7 seed in this bracket, but this team is well-coached and won’t go down easy. Senior Erik Helgeson is tough to go up against at the faceoff X and if he can get wins there, Ridge will have the edge in possession. AJ Lembo, Ryan Olivo and Colin Ward lead a young attack that needs to be at its best late in the season. Senior goalie Kenny Sinofsky has been tough to beat and will have to have some season-best performances for Ridge to have the chance to go out and play spoiler in the state playoffs.

Columbia (13-4) won five of its last six games to close out the regular season, including a 12-9 payback win against Montclair one week after a loss to the Mounties. The Cougars have received consistent leadership from seniors such as Shane Knezovic, Aidan Kemp, RJ Benn and Walter Rae, though are predominantly driven by talented underclassmen. Junior goalie Sam Busch, sophomore FOGO Max Gigante, junior attackman Cole Abel, and sophomore defenseman Declan Cavanaugh are just a few.

SOUTH, GROUP 4

FAVORITE: Southern won this section a year ago and is the favorite to do it again in 2022. This team has a lot of talent and leaders on both ends of the field that will make the Rams hard to knock off. Jack Kolbe transferred in from Robbinsville this season and that addition has been monumental. The senior is Southern’s leading scorer this season and he stepped up earlier in this season when NJIT Ryan Sininsky was out with an injury. Hofstra commit Joey DeYoung has also been a dynamic scorer along with seniors Jake and Zach Washco. NJIT commit Tyler Sininsky is one of the best goalies in the state and he will be the leader of the defense in the playoffs. Bellarmine commit Nate Committee is another leader on that end of the field. Senior Kurt Falk has played well at the faceoff X and he’ll be counted on to give Southern an edge.

Alex Sepe (5) of Gill St. Bernard's takes down Lucca Napoli (55) of Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Alex Sepe (5) of Gill St. Bernard's takes down Lucca Napoli (55) of Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

CONTENDERS: Eastern has re-established itself as a title contender this season. The Vikings have turned things around in a big way and this team now expects to compete with the best of the best. Luke Riley has been awesome as the leader of the offense alongside seniors Shane Huggard, Nathan Shimp and Braden Travaglini. Sophomore Sam Zak and rookie Chase Huggard have stepped up this spring and given Eastern even more options to rely on when it needs a goal. Jon Brennan, Thomas Keating, Dylan Paolone and Evan Townsend are the top playmakers on a defense that is anchored by Jared Goldstein.

Cherokee has been playing well this season and will be right in the thick of this playoff title race. Miguel Lontok, Nathan Bialy, Billy Westerby and Sean Cole have been the best offensive weapons for this team and that group of scorers need to be sharp in the postseason. Senior Andrew Jones has been tough to be in net and leads this defense.

Gill St. Bernard's Head Coach Byron Collins directs his team against Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Gill St. Bernard's Head Coach Byron Collins directs his team against Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

Lenape took a beating earlier this season and struggled with the schedule that it had. This team is young in a lot of spots, but the Indians always seem to pull it together late in the year and make a run in the state playoffs. Senior Sean Shelko has been this team’s best offensive player and he will put the attack on his back when needed. Luke Birney, Aidan Bregman, Ryan Dickson and Nolan Sampson will be counted on as well. Senior Sean Pappas and junior goalie Ben Blum will set the tone on defense.

Kingsway has an ace up its sleeve in Air Force commit Jake Mason. The junior has put together an incredible season and he’s one of the leading scorers in the entire state. That type of go-to player makes Kingsway a dangerous squad to run up against. Seniors Matt Marino and Austin Sperduto provide veteran experience on attack, while rookie Keegan Borkowski has come in and added another element to this offense. Fox Camann, Joseph Glanfield, Dominic Hibbs, Dane Jesperson and Daniel LaLena have all played well on defense in front of rookie goalie Brady Whitzel. Sophomore Cristian Davis has been impressive at the faceoff X in 2022.

NON-PUBLIC A

FAVORITE: Don Bosco Prep (12-1) has not only won 12 straight games since its opening-day loss to Ridgewood, 7-6, but has done so with the same kind of overwhelming balance and power that guided the Ironmen to the Tournament of Champions crown last year. Don Bosco defeated Gilman (Md.), 9-8, two days after the loss to Ridgewood, and has since dispatched all other opponents by at least five goals. That veteran attack line of Koleton Marquis (43 goals, 38 assists), Connor Gorman (45 and 25) and Mason Carfello (27 and 13) possesses too much firepower for even established defensive units to withstand. If any of them do get tangled up a bit in a shutoff, middies Mark Marino and Brandon Stuart are capable of picking up the slack. Connor Kehm, Connor Gerlach and Michael Amoruso lead a defense that allows 5.0 goals a game. Sophomore goalie Colton Carfello and freshman FOGO Scott Conte have fulfilled their roles with surprising consistent this season.

Charles Gilpin (77) of Governor Livingston controls the ball against Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Charles Gilpin (77) of Governor Livingston controls the ball against Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

CONTENDERS: Seton Hall Prep (13-3), ranked No. 3, had spun off nine consecutive wins before an overtime loss to Malvern Prep (Pa.) on Saturday, 7-6, to finish the regular season. That game, along with their 7-6 victory over Iona Prep two days earlier, is sure to strengthen the Pirates for the playoffs. Will Rose, Shawn Lyght, Liam Oakes, Ethan Ackerman have been tough, durable performers on defense and are backed by one of the state’s premier goalies in Bucknell commit John “JAZ” Zanelli. The offense was not as explosive in the past three games as was the case most of this season. Matthew Wrede, Quinn Spillett, James Bailey, Max Racich and Christian Schweiger aim to change that.

St. Augustine is one of the state’s elite teams and it proved what it could do when it beat Rumson-Fair Haven in overtime a few weeks ago. The Hermits’ offense has a ton of experience and those veteran players move the ball around to set up the best shot possible. This team only has one loss and it came against prep powerhouse Lawrenceville, the No. 4 team in the country. Seniors Ryan Demato, Luke Hendricks, Genarro Petrongolo, Luke Scarpello and Matt Vanaman have one last shot at a title run and those offensive playmakers are going to make it count. Billy Hughes and Noah Plenn will also be counted on. Ben Thomas is one of the top long poles for St. Augustine, which will need to prove it can go up against the best non-public teams in North Jersey. Senior goalie Aidan Peters has a lot of experience in net and will anchor the defensive effort. Jackson Tinari has been St. Augustine’s primary starter at the faceoff X this spring.

Delbarton (12-5) lost a heartbreaker to archrival Mountain Lakes, 8-7, last Tuesday in the Morris County Tournament final, yet followed that up with one of its more thorough performances this season. The sixth-ranked Green Wave dominated No. 14 Westfield, 13-4, behind the balanced scoring of Ryan Johnson, Dylan Hakes, Rory McAloon, T.J. Coffey and Sean Diczok, and with some splendid goalkeeping from both Aidan Troy (10 saves) and Charlie Medd (7 saves). Delbarton will be looking to duplicate that effort with the help of defensemen Jack Sharma, Corbin Lukanski, Julian Radossich and Jake Melchionni.

Pingry was moved into Non-Public A this season after years of dominating Non-Public B. This group is very talented though and has the pieces to challenge anyone in this group. Rutgers commit Ryan Palmer has stepped up this season and led a group on attack that also features Oliver Duryee, Charlie Sherman, Nate Simon and Asher Ziv. Duke commit Luke Engelke has been killing it at the faceoff X this spring and he’s one of the state’s best FOGOs. The senior also switches sticks and joins the offense. He’s one of Pingry’s best scorers. Seniors Rob Rewey and Peter Roelke are leaders on defense of the field along with juniors Franklin Mau and Henry Pyne. Junior short-stick midfielders Jake Abdi and Jaymin Bhat have been key pieces as well. Sophomore Graham Stevens has played really well in net this season and if he is locked in, Pingry will have a chance against any team in Non-Public A.

St. Joseph (Mont.) saw its 11-game win streak come to an end May 7 against No. 1 Don Bosco Prep, 13-6, in the Bergen County Tournament semifinals, then lost again a week later to Iona Prep, 12-10, to lug a two-game losing streak into the playoffs. But that should not be too heavy a load for the Green Knights initially with steady FOGO Kyle Rummel (.765 win percentage) sparking the offense along with Peter Edmonds, Owen Finetto, Duke Richman and Tommy Brennan. Versatile Nico Kross (6 goals and 90 GBs as LSM), Marc Manfredonia and Ryan Colella anchor the defense.

Aidan Linde (5) of Governor Livingston fires a shot against against Ellis Wilson (45) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Aidan Linde (5) of Governor Livingston fires a shot against against Ellis Wilson (45) of Gill St. Bernard's during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

NON-PUBLIC B

FAVORITE: Gill St. Bernard’s gave Pingry all it could handle in the Somerset County quarterfinals and that’s a good sign for this title contender. Pingry was the team to beat in Non-Public B for years before the Big Blue were moved up to Non-Public A. Now, the title sits vacant and it is anyone’s to grab at this point. This program has been getting better and better over the years. Hobart commit Ellis Wilson has been one of the best goalies in the state and if he’s on his game, it will be hard for any team in this bracket to knock off the Knights. Air Force commit Connor Albertson is another defensive force for this team who will set the tone in the playoffs. Michael Scarpati and Will Stamato will also be counted on. On offense, Will Deo has put together another big year. Rookie Max Voigt has been awesome this spring and given this offense more pop. Seniors Grayson Moore and Alex Sepe bring veteran experience to the attack. If Gill St. Bernard’s can gain an edge in possession, this team is going to be hard to knock off.

Ellis Wilson (45) and Joseph Gustafson (15) of Gill St. Bernard's celebrate after a goal scored by Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22. © Tom Horak | For/nj.com/TNS Ellis Wilson (45) and Joseph Gustafson (15) of Gill St. Bernard's celebrate after a goal scored by Governor Livingston during the boys lacrosse game at Gill St. Bernard’s on 4/25/22.

CONTENDERS: Rutgers Prep came out on top in the Prep B Tournament this year and now it wants to add another state championship. Senior Ryan Pettit was an All-Non-Public standout on the basketball court and will continue his career on the hardwood at Lafayette. He’s a fierce competitor and has been Rutgers Prep’s best offensive player this spring. Seniors Louis Marius and Ryan Kokoszka have also been crucial to this team’s success. Sophomore Alex Williams and rookie Mac Priesing have stepped up and added to this attack. Sophomore goalies Zach Caruso and Jack Storipan have both played well this season and Rutgers Prep will be in good shape with either one of those players in net. Preston Harduby and senior Anthony Maresca are tone-setters on defense, playing alongside freshman Evan Bekos and sophomore Scott Chen.

Holy Spirit went on an 10-game winning streak before losing to Eastern last week. That game is only going to make this team even more prepared for the playoffs. Junior Stanley Marczyk is having an incredible year for an offense that also relies on the balanced play of Gavin Roman. Sophomore Matthew Goff is another dynamite scorer for this team. Joseph Reitzler and Eric Roman bring veteran experience to the attack. Sean Burns has been playing well at the faceoff X and he’s also been providing a spark for the offense. The defense only let up 4.5 goals per game during that 10-game winning streak.

Morristown-Beard made it to the Prep B final earlier this season and will hope to have the same success in this bracket. The Crimson pulled out a close win over Princeton Day to make it to that championship game and will see that same team again in the first round of the Non-Public B playoffs. Brendan Tartaglione and David Stulberger will give this team its best chance to get a win there and will be counted on if this team moves on.

Montclair Kimberley may be only 3-12, though its rigorous schedule has accorded the Cougars a bye through the first round as the No. 4 seed. They have battle four teams currently ranked in the Top 20, a fact that will certainly reduce the intimidation factor for MKA as it navigates this bracket. Evan Grossman, Brodie Snyder and Liam Hall lead the offense while Trent Bednar and Jordan Fishback anchor the defense along with senior goalie Jake Pryor.

The N.J. High School Sports newsletter now appearing in mailboxes 5 days a week. Sign up now and be among the first to get all the boys and girls sports you care about, straight to your inbox each weekday. To add your name, click here.

Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a subscription.

Brandon Gould can be reached at bgould@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonGouldHS.

©2022 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit nj.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From NJ.com

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon