Kellenberg’s Brendan Kelly and Marco Mongelli remembered watching another team hoist the trophy after the 2016 CHSAA AA boys lacrosse intersectional title game. They remembered their senior teammates crying.

With one year left on varsity, they vowed to not go out the same way.

“I never thought I would see someone cry,” Mongelli said.

Added Kelly, “Seeing all the seniors, how broken they all were, it just motivated all of us to work that much harder.”

Seven state championships had come and gone since the CHSAA added a Class AA title game, and Kellenberg had not appeared in one. So that also bore down on Kelly, Mongelli and the senior class.

If any tears were shed after that group’s final high school game on May 30, they were of the joyous variety. The Firebirds finally etched their name into the history books, with a 12-5 defeat of Buffalo St. Joseph’s Collegiate in the state championship game, erasing the pain from their 2016 loss to Fordham Prep.

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“It’s just a great accomplishment for Kellenberg lacrosse,” coach Mike Schwalje said. “It sets the bar a little bit higher for the players that are coming in, and hopefully we can kind of maintain that momentum as we move forward and each year try to take the next step to become a stronger program.”

Kellenberg (12-6) battled through a slew of injuries during the season’s first half. With several starters still sidelined, the Firebirds dropped their first rematch with Fordham Prep, 6-4, on April 20, the only date Kelly and Mongelli said they circled the minute they received the team’s schedule.

The Firebirds lost to Class AAA Chaminade their next time out but rattled off nine straight victories to close out the season.

“We finally got everybody back past the midpoint of the season,” Schwalje said. “That’s when we had our winning streak. That’s when we clicked off all the wins.”

The Firebirds defeated Fordham Prep, 6-5, in an intersectional semifinal and Iona Prep in the championship before cruising past St. Joseph’s.

As this senior class moves on -- for Kelly and Mongelli, that’s to play lacrosse for Salve Regina in Rhode Island -- they will always enjoy the memories of their final high school game.

“Over the past four years there’s nothing more that I took for granted than playing with those same kids I played with since freshman year, the bond we all had together,” Kelly said. “Now that’s all gone, but we have that championship to look back on, have all the memories to look back on from this season.”