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Talented Redbirds fly to 5-0 start in 2022 boys lacrosse campaign

Allentown High School boys lacrosse player #5 Ethan Shaltis is congratulated by teammates Jake Ruff and Carmen Capone for scoring a goal against Hopewell Valley during a game played on April 9 in Allentown. Allentown defeated Hopewell Valley 7-5 to improve to 5-0 on the season.

ALLENTOWN – Alex Finan, a former assistant coach at Hopewell Valley Central High School in Pennington, has led the Allentown High School boys lacrosse team to a 5-0 start in 2022 and his players believe Finan can help lead them to a Mercer County championship.

“Coach Finan has been really helping us out a lot,” senior attacker Jake Searing said. “We are watching a lot of film and scouting. We are practicing hard for two hours a day. He is the reason we have started the season 5-0. It’s all him. He is pushing us hard and we are expecting it and coming together as a team.”

Finan has used the players he has on the roster to develop the Redbirds into a team that scored 60 goals in five games.

Finan’s coaching skills have also developed a solid defense; one that has not allowed an opponent to score more than seven goals in a game. Through five games, the Redbirds outscored their opponents 60-25.

“The goal for us is to hold opponents to five goals,” Finan said. “Our defense is very well-rounded. With the high powered offense we have, we are going to win a lot of games when we hold opponents to only five goals.”

As a new head coach, it has been Finan’s goal to implement his own culture and style of play with his team. So far things have worked out well with Finan as he has helped the program start a new chapter of “Allentown Lacrosse.”

“It’s been awesome,” Finan said. “We have a great group of guys. I like the camaraderie and the brotherhood we are starting to build here.”

The Redbirds improved to 5-0 when they squared off against Finan’s former team, Hopewell Valley, in a Colonial Valley Conference (CVC) contest on April 8 in Allentown.

Allentown took a 4-0 lead in the first half on the strength of three goals from midfielder Ethan Shaltis, who recorded his third hat trick of the season.

“We tore apart (Hopewell Valley’s) zone defense,” Shaltis said. “We had a lot of step down shots from outside and they couldn’t stop it.”

Shaltis finished the game with three goals and an assist.

After the Bulldogs scored early in the third quarter to make the score 4-1, Shaltis assisted on a goal by Sean McCaffrey that pushed Allentown’s lead to 5-1.

The Bulldogs responded with two goals that made the score 5-3.

Searing found the back of the net in the final minute of the third quarter as the Redbirds took a 6-3 lead into the fourth quarter.

Hopewell Valley continued to fight back and drew within 6-5 with 1:37 left to play.

Following a cross-checking penalty on Hopewell Valley with :56 to play, Searing put the game on ice for the Redbirds with his second goal. The senior scored with :28 to play to make it 7-5 and put an end to the Bulldogs’ comeback attempt.

“We weren’t nervous at all,” Searing said. “We all know we are bringing it together at the end.”

Junior goalkeeper John Conroy had 15 saves for Allentown. Senior midfielder Jake Raff finished with a goal and two assists.

Allentown (5-0) will host Freehold Township High School on April 11. The Redbirds will face undefeated Notre Dame High School of Lawrenceville in a key CVC contest on April 14 in Allentown.

Just like the Redbirds’ victory over Hopewell Valley did, Finan knows his team’s game against Notre Dame will go a long way in helping them prepare to make a run at a county championship.

Finan believes his players have what it takes to win a county title and he believes his squad can contend for a state sectional tournament championship.

“I think we have the guys on the field to do it,” the coach said. “We want to win a county championship and compete against the best teams in the state.”

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