St. Anthony's goalie Alex Pazienza makes a save off the...

St. Anthony's goalie Alex Pazienza makes a save off the stick of Chaminade's Roy Meyer at Mitchell Athletic Complex in on May 16, 2018. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Chaminade vs. St. Anthony’s. It's a rivalry that is so ingrained in the fabric of boys lacrosse on Long Island that some of the players involved in the current iteration have distinct memories of watching the drama unfold from the stands.

“I’ve been going to Chaminade/St. Anthony’s championship games since, probably, fifth grade,” Chaminade attackman Thomas Rogan said. “So, to me, it’s the best rivalry in the entire country. There’s nothing better than playing against St. Anthony’s. It’s the coolest game.”

In addition to their regular-season matchup on April 10, the two bluebloods are on a crash course for a state title clash. As the only teams in the CHSAA’s ‘AAA’ classification, the postseason matchup for all the marbles is pre-ordained. But, despite the odd circumstance, the likelihood is that no one would have stopped either team on their path to the final.

St. Anthony’s is ranked seventh in the country in the latest Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse national power rankings. Chaminade, the defending CHSAA Class AA state champion, is ninth.

“It’s a historic rivalry that brings the best out of both programs,” St. Anthony’s coach Keith Wieczorek said. “I think we’re almost cookie-cutter images of each other . . . Both programs are very rich in tradition and both send kids to great schools to compete.”

This season is no different. St. Anthony’s attackman Jake Bonomi, a fast, versatile senior, is committed to Michigan. His teammate, attacker Brennan O’Neil, is committed to Duke and is considered the best junior in the country, Wieczorek said.

This season, O’Neil said he wants to hit the gym more, looking to add strength to his already well-established quickness and agility.

“I want to get bigger, faster, stronger,” O’Neil said. “ . . . I think the better athlete you are, the more it helps.”

St. Anthony’s plays a punishing schedule, one that will surely solidify their status as one of the country’s top teams. They face national powers such as Maryland’s McDonogh, New Jersey’s Delbarton, and Connecticut’s Darien (April 28 on ESPNU).

As Bonomi put it, ‘there are no days off.’

“[Wieczorek] always says, we’re going to get the best shot from every team,” O’Neil said. “Every team has us circled on our calendar and they’re making it known that this is the game of the year for them. We know that, every time we go on the field, it has to be our best game possible.”

And, at the end of St. Anthony’s tour of the best the country has to offer, Chaminade will be waiting.

The Flyers figure to reload after losing key pieces from the state championship team but, as the national rankings prove, they won’t fall far. Notre Dame-commit Liam Entenmann will take over the starting role in goal. He played last season, but didn’t start. Instead, Entenmann learned from Andrew Bonafede, who is now at Duke.

“To be a goaltender at the level I’m playing at, you have to be a good ball-stopper and a good clearer,” Entenmann said. “Pretty much every goalie that I’m going to be playing against this year are those two things. I feel where I separate myself from a bunch of other people is my ability to communicate with the defenseman and the defensive middies. I feel like I do a pretty good job of that.”

Rogan, who is committed to Dartmouth, is the leader of the Flyers offense and Reilly Gray, also Notre Dame-bound, is a strong shooter, feeder, and defender.

“I would like to see myself get everyone involved and make everyone around me a better player,” Rogan said. “I want to facilitate and help everyone around me get better. Hopefully, that’s what the recipe is for a championship.”

Few things are certain on the road to a championship, especially in March. But, this one is – the season will end in iconic fashion – with another edition of Chaminade/St. Anthony’s.

Class AA

Kellenberg and St. John the Baptist live in this classification. Navy commit Dan Wilson and Long Island University-bound Sean Boll lead the Firebirds, along with the extremely athletic Matt Sluka. Sluka, who was a Newsday All-Long Island quarterback in the fall, is a down-hill runner who isn’t afraid to break a double-team. Sluka is a great clearer with superior vision.

St. John the Baptist boasts Colin Malone, who is one of the best returning goalies in the league, and stout faceoff man Connor Buschle.

Class A  

Jack Rooney leads a strong St. Dominic team. Rooney had 40 goals and 40 assists last season. Liam Linden and Chris Caputo anchor the Bayhawks on defense. Linden is a physical cover man and Caputo is a lefty with great stick skills.