The St. John the Baptist boys lacrosse team has given the Cougar Crazies, its buoyant, loyal fan base, many reasons to celebrate lately.
Behind the support of a home crowd, the Cougars (10-8) won the NYSCHSAA AA Intersectional championship game Tuesday against Fordham Prep, 9-7, four days after defeating Kellenberg for the Long Island CHSAA AA championship.
SJB will play Bishop Timon St. Jude (Buffalo), for the CHSAA AA state title at 3 p.m. Monday at St. John the Baptist.
The program began in 1972, and it is the first time the SJB boys lacrosse team has advanced to the state championship game, according to athletic director Ralph Dalton.
"We have a really good shot," said Hofstra-bound senior Tim Nowak, who leads the team in points with 25 goals and 17 assists. "We've been really clicking lately."
The emergence of junior Nick Annitto, whose 33 goals leads the team, is one reason for the recent success. Annitto, who is lefthanded, has been the ideal complementary asset to Nowak, who shoots righthanded. Senior Christian Turri also has played a part in the Cougars' current season-high four-game winning streak.
The team's defense also has stepped up in recent games. First-year starter Daghan Hart, a senior, was voted MVP of the LI championship game after recording 16 saves and captain Pat Joy continues to keep opposing top scorers in check.