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The State of Lacrosse in North Jersey

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2008 at 4:37 pm

April 25, 2008

The State of Lacrosse in North Jersey

I have heard some clamoring about my most recent boys lacrosse rankings. There has been talk that I am a novice. That I don’t know what I’m taking about. That I have no credibility. That my picks were made without thought or reason.

I’m here to tell you that you’re right. And wrong. Here’s why. Plus a few other things.

OK, you got me. I havent followed NJ high school lacrosse intently for my whole life. But I do know the sport (played for ten years, followed closely throughout and some in-between) and I do love it. What other sport requires so many different skills of a player, girl or boy. Hand-eye coordination, athleticism, strength, smarts, knowledge of the game all play a critical role. Not to mention technique, coaching and game execution. I know the intricacies of the sport and I notice them during games, which I have seen plenty of this year.

With that in mind here are my thoughts on the State of North Jersey Lacrosse.

Everything starts and ends with Ridgewood. It is by far and away the best team in North Jersey. Kevin Vaughan is the truth. Fast, intelligent, great shot, great sight. Chris Pedersen may be slightly overshadowed by Vaughan, but he is a great lacrosse player too. Great knowledge of the game. Superb passer and great vision from midfield. Their role offensive players are strong too. The big question for them is how goalie Colin Gable and the defense play. Gable made a few spectacular saves in that Bergen Catholic game but also made a few mental errors – the biggest being the intercepted pass turned into a goal. Mike Pounds is a great coach too.

By the way Ridgewood hosts West Islip (NY), which was the #1 team in the nation last year and is tops in NY this year, May 10.

Bergen Catholic is a tough team with a good bit of talent. Zander Walters is a tough match up for any team at midfield. Dan Semon has a hard shot but didnt make a dodge (other than bull dodge) against Ridgewood. The biggest problem for BC against Wood was Wood’s ability to break down the BC defense one-on-one. When that happens any defense is completely beat. The BC goalie – like Ridgewood’s – makes great saves but also mental mistakes. He threw the ball over the head of a teammate three times in the fourth quarter. I think Bergen Catholic has the talent to win, but with a schedule this tough it will be tough for them to best .500 by much. THEY MUST WIN AGAINST MONTCLAIR THIS WEEKEND! Chip Casto (former Montclair assistant) should have something to say about that

In the two games I saw Don Bosco play this year they have been smoked – Ridgewood – and lost a heartbreaker to Northern Highlands. Bosco needs to score more. They have too much talent to be 5-5 (yes, they beat MKA) and should be scoring more goals. They are in position to score, but bad shots have been their downfall. They had the ball with the Highlands goalie at midfield and the shooter (I forget who) missed the net. You cant miss the net when the goalies not in it. I think Bosco is a good team and that once everything is clicking they can been good. Mike Springer has a great offensive mind.

Northern Highlands is a team no one seems to talk about. They have issues, some of the kids can be easliy bodied off the ball, but they also have some really quality players. Routh is legit. He took control of that game against Bosco after Mike Colaruuso went down. But Northern Highlands also didn’t score for over 24 minutes in that game, and won some how. It all depends on their goalie and defense. The defense was constantly switching styles during the Bosco game. Zone, man, box, shutoff. Everything. If they play with that energy and passion they can complete with the big boys.

Indian Hills is led by Zac Smith who is a solid lax player. He has some nice moves and a strong shot. The biggest problem for Hills is it has little depth. Indian Hills has to play a perfect game to compete with the upper echelon teams. But I ranked them #2 in North Jersey for a reason. THEYRE 8-2. That is a great record and they have beat some decent teams. Glen Rock comes to mind but that win against Fair Lawn was impressive too. You can only play the teams scheduled for you and they have done that well.

Fair Lawn is a weird team for me because I saw them great for one half and bad in another. I dont know which is the real Fair Lawn. They scored so fast against Hills I think they got over confident and let up a bit. They shouldn’t have lost that game but did. Still they have to play like the team I saw in the first half of that game. Confidence, good movement by the players away from the ball, smart passing, few unforced errors. If they play like the second half team I saw they can lose to anyone.

Wayne Valley has won five games in a row and is also 8-2. That warrants respect no matter who they
played. It takes skill to win five games in a row, not luck. MKA was a victim during the stretch and Valley had to play four games in six days. That’s tough, so for them to win those games is very impressive.

As you can see I made the rankings for a reason. I will not make my rankings strictly based on what Lax Power says. I use that as one of many tools in making my decisions.

If any of you havent seen my story about Alex Orlando you should.
http://www.northjersey.com/hssports/boyslacrosse/A_true_Crusader.html
It will make you appreciate life more. It did that for me. Orlando and his family are incredibly nice and I really enjoyed writing the story.

Also there is a great event this Saturday at Madison Square Garden. It is an Army Navy alumni game followed by a Titans Knighthawks box game. 25 percent of the proceeds go to wounded vets, some of which are playing in the alumni game. Should be fun.

I know I promised new rankings today but decided to hold off until Wednesday. That way a full week will have passed between rankings and a clearer picture will be visible.

This is an open discussion and I invite you share your thoughts with me. If you have an insightful comment or observation I will respond. Please no, you’re and idiot. While I may not know everything I know the sport, I know the area and I know the teams.

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  1. This ad sponsored by the Maple Park Carpet Company. Will be opening new locations in your Village soon.

  2. Can people now write in about how great their kids at sports or is thay type of column only available at the Ridgewood News.

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