LIBERTY LACROSSE BEATS MAINLAND IN PLAYOFFS
LINWOOD – The Mustangs of Mainland Regional High School held their heads high after Friday’s 14-11 loss to Jackson Liberty in a South Jersey Group III boys lacrosse quarterfinal playoff game. That was appropriate coming at the end of a season in which the Mustangs made the big leap from sinking ship to high and dry ground. “It was a great season, a very exciting season,” said junior Andrew Bradley. “This is the first year we knew we were going to come together as a team, and play as a team, be one unit, be a family. Every time we break (huddles), it’s family, family, family. We gave it our best shot.” Tyler Kalmowitz scored six goals to lead fifth-seeded Jackson Liberty, including four in the fourth period as the Lions overcame a two-goal deficit. Jackson Liberty advanced to play top-seeded Moorestown in the semifinals on Wednesday. Ryan Swenson had three goals and three assists for fourth-seeded Mainland. Ethan Irizarry had two goals and three assists, and Keegan Ford had three goals and one assist. Mainland coach Clayton Smith said the loss of top faceoff man Brendan Kane to a hip flexor injury was too much for the Mustangs to overcome, given the disparity in time of possession between the teams. “Possession was a big key,” he said. “We couldn’t get the ball on faceoffs like we’d like. Antonio Yeoman stepped up huge, but when you’re used to winning 75 percent of your faceoffs and you’re down to winning 25 percent, now you have to get the ball back. Throughout the season we never had to pressure anybody or force like we did today. But we’re getting there.” Mainland lost only twice during the regular season, both times to longtime local power Ocean City, including a game that decided the Cape-Atlantic League title. The Mustangs registered a convincing first-round victory over Neptune earlier this week, their first postseason win since the current 16-team format was established. Smith said that as CAL teams like Mainland, Lower Cape May, Egg Harbor Township and Oakcrest join Ocean City in a stronger local lacrosse landscape, the more established teams and conferences like the Shore and Olympic will start to take notice. “That’s the beginning, and you keep building,” Smith said. Mainland will lose four key seniors, including top attack man Swenson, who set the school’s single season record for goals (60) Friday and also owns the program’s career record (147). But the team has a core of strong underclassmen, and Smith said there are several freshmen and sophomores ready to step up, a testament to the development of the youth lacrosse feeder programs in the mainland communities. Another factor is continuity. Smith said the program has gone through several coaching changes in recent years. He had been an assistant for six years before taking over as head coach this season. “When we walked off the field, Ethan Irizarry (a junior) said, ‘We’ve got one more season together, and I can’t wait.’ Some of these guys are going to start working out tomorrow.” “It’s going to be a good season next year,” said Bradley, a junior from Linwood. “This was more about preparing for next year, because we’ve never been in this situation before. We have nothing to be ashamed of about this season or that game.
Shore News Today | 5/21/2016
Shore News Today | 5/21/2016