By Matthew Rocco
A big senior class has helped the Shore Regional High School boys lacrosse team turn the page this season, and the Blue Devils believe they can sustain their early success in 2016 and beyond.
After a 6-12 campaign in 2015, the Blue Devils brought back a large group of returning players, including senior captains Doug Goldsmith, Jack Britton and Eric Graham. Shore Regional also counts seniors Casey Rogers, Nick Boice, Henry Cioffi, Hunter Avallone and Mike Lithgow among its returning varsity players.
Goldsmith, a midfielder who committed to playing NCAA Division I lacrosse at the University of Albany next year, scored four goals and added three assists in a 12-7 victory over Holmdel High School April 29. Britton had a hat trick with one assist. Avallone, Shore Regional’s goalkeeper, saved six shots.
Head coach Gregg Malfa said the combination of veterans and newcomers has paid off so far. Shore Regional’s seniors are playing a big role off the field, too. Malfa noted that Shore Regional’s seniors excel as athletes and students, setting an example for their younger teammates by working hard around the clock.
“I feel like we have a good mix of senior leadership and a lot of young guns. Having such a young group of kids coming in, it’s hard to do. To have a couple offensive guys and a couple defensive guys help younger players in those particular positions; it’s really helpful,” Malfa said.
With the win against Holmdel, Shore Regional improved to 8-4 on the season with a 4-2 divisional record in Shore Conference Class B North. The Blue Devils’ two divisional losses came against Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (9-3) and Ocean Township High School (10-1). The April 27 loss to Ocean Township was a tight game, as Shore Regional led 4-2 after the first period but failed to hold the lead. The Blue Devils, who went on to lose, 10-8, got two goals apiece from Doug Goldsmith and Gil Goldsmith.
Malfa hopes the program can build on its recent success. In past seasons, Shore Regional has taken steps backward in the wake of losing key veterans. But Malfa said Shore Regional’s youth program is generating interest in the sport and beginning to provide a good pipeline of new talent for the Blue Devils.
“It’s the sixth year of the [Shore boys lacrosse] program. It’s hard to get new players who have never played before. From our youth program, we’re now getting freshmen who have played with us before. To have those kids come in and contribute right away is certainly a plus,” said Malfa, who has served as head coach from the start.
“In the past, we were losing more than we were gaining back. Hopefully, the youth program can make us more of a stable program like other programs in the Shore Conference.”
As for the rest of this season, the Blue Devils certainly see themselves in the postseason conversation, especially as the younger players continue to compete against tough teams like Rumson-Fair Haven and Ocean Township.
“Experience is everything,” Malfa said, and the Blue Devils will only get stronger for this year and years to come.
“If we can clean up our inexperience and play complete games, we definitely have a chance to win some games in the Shore Conference Tournament and state tournament as well.”
First-round games in the Shore Conference Tournament are scheduled to start May 7.