By Anthony Caruso
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/31/18
PENNINGTON, N.J. – The season admittedly ended in disappointment for the Lenape boys’ lacrosse team, but Zach Cole said the season was clearly a success.
“Getting our team this far, we have had a very special group,” said the senior faceoff specialist, whose Indians fell to Watchung Hills, 10-3, Wednesday in the New Jersey Group 4 state championship at Hopewell Valley High. “We are the second team ever to make it to a state final. We had a very successful season. We would push each other through practice and games.
“I would call this a successful season, but it hurts. I touched on this, as I had the same outcome my freshman year, and it pushed us further. Hopefully, this lesson is learned by the younger players.”
Watchung Hills (19-2) won its first state title and did it convincingly, taking a 5-0 lead before stretching it to 9-1 in the final period as the Indians (19-3) never had momentum. The Warriors advance to the Tournament of Champions; Lenape was making only its second appearance in a state final.
“Obviously, going in, I thought we were able to compete with them,” Lenape head coach Bill Sutphin said. “We knew the high level of lacrosse they played in the North vs. the South. We felt like we had a good game plan coming in. We felt like we didn’t execute some things, but they did.
“We had too many mental errors and they are a smart team that is disciplined. They do not hurt themselves, and the score showed, as the game went on.”
Cole – who won 12 of 16 faceoffs Wednesday and was one of the best at the X in the state all year – was one of four Indians players, who experienced the state final defeat as a freshman. Others were Matt Lajoie, Matt Ingersoll, and Drew Bregman.
“Of the senior class, there were four guys, who played in this game,” Sutphin said. “We thought that would help us a little bit, and it did, as it helped in the locker room and in practice this week in preparation for this game. They were too much for what we thought were going to come.”
Connor James led the Warriors with four goals and two assists. Brian Richmond also had three goals, while Gavin DeFuria also had two goals and an assist. Joe Rica also had a goal.
Lajoie, Bryce Reece and Dante Venuto each scored once for Lenape. Netminder Rob Pensabene made 10 saves.
This was the final game for 18 Lenape seniors. This also includes their three captains in Cole, Lajoie, and Venuto.
Lenape’s highlight this year came last week in its 10-8 South Jersey title win over Montgomery – a team it fell to the past two years in the same game. The senior class finished 66-15 overall over four years.
“We’re very proud of the accomplishments of the season,” Sutphin said. “We’re one of the teams in South Jersey now. Obviously, nobody wants to lose, but I thanked them for their contributions not only to the program, but to the school and to the community.
“They’re great character kids, they’re pure leaders and they’re going to be successful in life. Nobody makes money in lacrosse, because nobody does.”
Group 3 – Northern Higjlands 10, Moorestown 6
In the Group 4 final, Cooper Richards scored five goals to lead Northern Highlands (20-2) to the title.
Trevor Jones had two goals for Moorestown, which finished 16-6.
NJ Group 4 State Championship
Watchung Hills 10, Lenape 3
Watchung Hills 3 2 4 1 =10
Lenape 0 1 1 1 =3
Chris Clintock 1a
Gavin DeFuria 2g
Connor James 4g, 1a
Joe Rica 1g, 1a
Brian Richmond 3g
Spencer Bokach 10 saves
Matt Lajoie 1g
Bryce Reece 1g
Dante Venuto 1g
Zach Cole 12 of 16 FO
Rob Pensabene 6 saves
NJ Group 3 State Championship
Northern Highland 10, Moorestown 6
Northern Highlands 3 2 4 1 =10
Moorestown 1 2 0 3 =6
Ben Cantwell 3a
Vinny Capraola 1g
Sean Carden 1g
Trevor Jones 2g
Connor McDonough 1g
Ryan Pozaga 1g
Jack Avis 1 save
Gene Martin 6 saves
Kevin Griffith 2a
Christian Lane 2g
Joe Nirchio 2a
Brett Paparozzi 1a
Max Paparozzi 1g, 1a
Charles Ratner 2g, 1
Cooper Richards 5g