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Chaminade seniors' last chance to beat rival St. Anthony's

Chaminade's Ryan Lukacovic carries the ball against St.

Chaminade's Ryan Lukacovic carries the ball against St. Anthony's during the Nassau CHSAA Class AAA championship game. (May 24, 2012) (Credit: Dan Neri)

Pop quiz, Long Island high school lacrosse fans.

When was the last time St. Anthony’s or Chaminade did not enter the boys lacrosse CHSAA season as a defending champion?

It was 1987 (Holy Trinity won the 1986 title), and the Friars and Flyers are expected to match up in the 2013 title game, which is a good thing, of course, for Chaminade’s seniors.

But here’s the not-so-good thing for the soon-to-be-graduates: This is their last shot to beat St. Anthony’s, winners of the past four CHSAA titles (the last three have come in Class AAA as the league began crowning champions in three separate classes in 2010).

The talented group, which includes several winners of individual accolades and players with commitments to Division I lacrosse programs, is entering 2013 well aware of that fact and fully motivated.

“It’s huge,” Chaminade senior goalkeeper Danny Fowler said. “I still have yet to win, so winning this last championship is a big deal. Again, it would be huge, and for me, it will make or break it [his high school athletic career].”

Described by longtime coach Jack Moran as one of the most tireless workers ever to play for him, Fowler knows (perhaps more than anyone else because of his position) what it’s like to see one goal too many get through the net in a championship game. He said this year the usual superb defense should be even better because of a group of juniors.

One of those juniors is midfielder Sam Bonafede, who seniors have described as one of the fastest kids on Long Island.

“He has a different level of speed,” said Fowler, who’s headed to Duke. “He can get shots off quick and he’s impressive to watch and play with.”

Heralded by many as one of the top players at his position in the nation, Virginia-bound senior attack Ryan Lukacovic, also believes the juniors should help Chaminade get over that championship hump this year, but for a different reason other than talent.

“With losing to St. Anthony’s last year, our senior class is definitely motivated," Lukacovic said. "We don’t want to have that repeat feeling. It was tough and pretty gut wrenching. Playing with that jersey on, you want to win it for the guys who were seniors last year as well. The juniors have fed off that idea and are really motivated.”

St. Anthony's defeated Chaminade, 8-6, to win the Class AAA CHSAA title last year and another close game would surprise no one.

“They're always close games because they’re always just as good. It just comes down to who wants it more,“ said senior Kris Clarke, the team’s primary faceoff guy. “It would mean a lot to turn the table. It definitely would.”