Chaminade entered the season confident it had plenty of offense. But did the Flyers have enough defense?
“We had a lot of guys returning on offense, but everyone except Andrew [Bonafede, the Duke-bound goalie] was gone on defense,” Chaminade boys lacrosse coach Jack Moran said. “All three of our starting defensemen had graduated and all three were starters this year at Division I colleges.”
With its usual tough non-league schedule, Moran knew he’d find out right away if his ‘D’ would rate an ‘A.’
The unit aced its first test and nearly every other in compiling a 17-3 record and helping the Flyers win the CHSAA Class AA state championship. “We got an inkling in the McDonogh game,” Moran said of a season-opening 11-6 victory over the perennial powerhouse in the renown Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association. “Bonafede was awesome that day and our defense got solidified. Then we knew we could play with anybody because we knew we’d score 10 or 12 goals every game.”
Bonafede’s play in the cage was no surprise, but the unit in front of him was a pleasant one. Defensemen Anthony Tangredi, Frank Marinello and Dominick Speranza plus long-stick middie Roy Meyer helped the Flyers limit opponents to 6.45 goals per game.
The offense lived up to expectations, averaging 12.95 goals per game without a single player posting gaudy statistics. In fact, Moran noted, “We don’t post our statistics on Max Preps. That’s not our way. We don’t have a 100-point scorer, but we have five with at least 30 points. That’s what we’re about.”
The Flyers had eight players score at least 10 goals and two others with nine each, led by Aidan Byrnes (41), the team’s leading scorer with 51 points. Jake Sexton (26 goals, 17 assists) and Pat Kavanagh (15 goals, 15 assists) joined Byrnes on an attack unit that took turns contributing in some of the team’s biggest victories. Byrnes scored five goals against state Class B finalist John Jay-Cross River; Sexton netted four against Yorktown, and Kavanagh had two goals and an assist against Nassau Class A champion Massapequa.
Will Kusnierek (31 goals), Sean Kuttin (22 goals) and Chris Nicholas (17 goals) contributed from the midfield. Kuttin was named CHSAA and Newsday Nassau County player of the year and was the league’s only All-American selection.
Tyler Sandoval, the CHSAA faceoff player of the year, created many extra scoring opportunities for Chaminade, which lost to rival St. Anthony’s, 12-8, on April 26, then won nine of its last 10 games, including beating the Friars in a classic regular-season finale, 14-13, on Kavanagh’s goal with three seconds left to earn the top seed in the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA Class AA playoffs.
After that, the Flyers had a smooth flight. They beat Kellenberg in the league semifinals, handled St. Anthony’s again to earn a spot in the state final and ended their season by beating Buffalo-St. Joseph’s Collegiate, 19-5, for the state crown.
“We had a lot of really good players,” Moran said. “And no egos.”
Road TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
St. Anthony’s, 14-13
St. Anthony’s, 12-5
Buffalo-St. Joseph’s Collegiate, 19-5