In recent years, the boys lacrosse season has belonged to Freehold Township High School and Howell High School.
While both enjoyed usual winning seasons, it was Jeff Rosenberg’s Colts Neck High School team that brought home the hardware this spring.
Led by their remarkable goalie, Andrew Halmi, the Cougars won the Shore Conference A North Division public school title, defeating both of last year’s co-champions, Freehold Township and Howell. The Cougars (7-9) were 6-1 in A North play. They also won a round in the state sectional tournament, defeating Hightstown High School to advance to the quarterfinals.
Freehold Township started slowly this year while breaking in a number of new starters. By season’s end, the Patriots were as competitive as ever and made the quarterfinals of the Shore Conference Tournament. Their biggest win may just have been in the state sectionals, where an 11-4 win over East Brunswick High School lifted the Patriots to the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group IV quarterfinals.
Howell was hit hard by graduation as well, and the team struggled all year to find firepower. But its was still competitive enough to make the postseason and enjoy a winning record at 9-8.
These three teams rule the News Transcript’s 2016 All-Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD) Boys Lacrosse Team.
The attackers are Josh Nastarowicz, Freehold Township; Drew Bukowiec, Howell; Vinnie Garguilo, Colts Neck; and Andrew Dunn, Freehold Township. The midfielders are Nick Rossi, Howell; Mike Ferdinandi, Freehold Township; Nico Lorenzo, Howell; and Jack Schaefer, Colts Neck. The defenders are: Shawn Poole, Freehold Township; Tyler Von Nessen, Freehold Township; Ty Sebor, Freehold Township; Jack Noone, Howell; and Joe Fifield, Colts Neck. Halmi is the goalie.
Halmi was that rare goalie in lacrosse who was a difference-maker. He could make the hardest saves look routine, and that turned the momentum over to Colts Neck. In addition, he was the leader of the defense, coordinating and moving players around into their right spot. He had 148 saves this spring and his save percentage was above .500. He was the difference when Colts Neck edged Howell, 9-8, to win the A North title. He had 17 saves in that game
Colts Neck knew every time it took the field it would have a chance to win because Halmi kept the Cougars in games.
Rossi enjoyed a superb senior season. The middie scored 31 goals and handed out 32 assists. He scooped up 64 ground balls. He had the rare distinction of playing both the lacrosse and football Shore area all-star games this spring.
Nastarowicz, a junior, had a big year for the Patriots and emerged as the go-to scorer the team needed. He scored 49 goals and had 33 points for an 82-point season.
Dunn, another junior, worked well up front with Nastarowicz giving teams someone else to worry about. He deposited 21 goals and led the team in assists with 42.
Garguilo scored a number of big goals for the Cougars to help them secure the division title. The junior had a team-high 29 goals to go with eight assists.
Bukowiecz matched Rossi’s offensive numbers, scoring 31 goals and assisting on 32 for 63 points. The Rebels will look for him to carry the scoring load next spring.
Lorenzo will be there to help Bukowiecz. The junior midfielder had 21 goals and 10 assists.
Ferdinandi deposited 29 goals and had six assists. He was also the Patriots’ faceoff player.
Schaefer, a senior, was second in scoring for Colts Neck with 14 goals and a team-high 15 assists.
Defense is where the Patriots had the most experience, and it’s what kept the team going until the offense came a round. Seniors Von Nessen and Sebor and junior Poole anchored a steady defense.
The Rebels will be glad to have Noone back. He was one of the top defenders in the division.
The same can be said of the Cougars’ Fifield. He led a defense that was Colts Neck’s strength all year.
Halmi, Rossi, Von Nessen, Sebor, Schaefer and Fifield were all named to the North squad that played in the Shore Lacrosse Coaches North-South All-Star Game at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School. Halmi played the second half and had 10 saves, helping the North all-stars win, 14-10. Rossi chipped in with a goal and an assist for the winners.
Student-athletes who have earned All-FRHSD honorable mention recognition for their performances during the 2016 season are Thjis Smit (midfield) and Nick San Filippo (midfield), Colts Neck; Matt Lach (midfield) and Jake Dudics (middie), Freehold Township; and Nick Roberto (goalie), Kevin Bailey (defense) and Cameron Ayesh (middie), Howell.