NJ Boys' Group Championships Commence Wednesday

The Garden State will crown six champions in boys' lacrosse as the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) group title games are set for Wednesday. Five top seeds remain, including perennial powers Delbarton and Mountain Lakes, while a few surprises like fifth-seed Moorestown hope to finish the stretch run with authority. Once group play wraps up, the highly anticipated Tournament of Champions gets underway on Saturday ahead of the championship contest set for June 11.

NJSIAA Non-Public Group A Championship: No. 1 Delbarton vs. No. 2 St. Augustine Prep

Longtime lacrosse elite Delbarton looks for its first Group A title since 2009 this week after St. Joseph-Metuchen took the championship last year. Delbarton had won four titles in a row before last year's abbreviation.

The Green Wave (15-4) have won four games in a row heading into Wednesday's showdown, including a 13-3 win over Bergen Catholic in the second round and an 8-7 victory against St. Joseph-Metuchen in the semifinals. In that Final Four contest, midfielder Cole Ricciardi scored with 2.1 seconds left to lift the Green Wave to the win. Delbarton trailed 7-3 entering the final stanza.

Against St. Augustine, look for midfielder Peter McMullen (Bucknell), attackman Clay Haarmann (Holy Cross), midfielder Ben Reynolds and teammate Patrick Foley to all see numerous touches. The group has been lights-out during the postseason and typically gives opponents nightmares with their chemistry, speed and ability to get to the cage.

No. 2 St. Augustine Prep (17-4) has saved some of its finest lacrosse for last. The Hermits are riding a nine-game winning streak into the finale, which includes a pair of shutouts. Recently, the squad downed No. 7 Notre Dame 12-1 in the second round before dispatching No. 3 Don Bosco Prep, 14-5, in the semifinals. Mike Sutton and Steven Pontrello have been go-to scorers offensively and are both fresh off four-goal performances. Senior attackman Nikko Pontrello (Loyola) has also served as a key force through his elite playmaking abilities, most recently evidenced in a two-goal, three-assist effort against Don Bosco.

NJSIAA Non-Public Group B Championship: No. 1 Immaculata vs. No. 2 Montclair Kimberley Academy

In the Group B title game, top seed Immaculata will shoot for its third-straight group championship when they take on Montclair Kimberley. Immaculata (18-1) soundly defeated No. 8 Holy Cross, 18-3, in the second round before edging No. 5 Pingry, 9-8, in semifinal play last week. The Spartans currently at No. 2 in the state of New Jersey in the latest LaxPower rankings should lean on midfielder Taylor Vanderbeek, attackman Ryan Coakley and goalie Charlie Fenwick throughout.

As for Montclair Kimberly, the squad is 17-1 overall after edging Newark Academy, 5-4, in the semifinals. In that contest, the Cougars held Newark to just one second half goal after playing to a 3-3 tie at halftime. Jack Strain led the way with two goals, while teammate Matt Lane added one goal and one assist.

NJSIAA Tournament Group 1 Championship: No. 1 Mountain Lakes vs. No. 3 Glen Ridge

Top-ranked Mountain Lakes (14-5) looks for its fifth Group 1 title in the last six years when they go up against Glen Ridge. Including an 8-2 win over West Essex in the semifinals, the Lakers have outscored their opponents 29-8 in postseason three games so far. Against West Essex, after being blanked in the first quarter, the Lakers scored five unanswered goals in the second quarter to take a commanding 5-1 lead into the second half and setting up their victory. The squad is paced by a balanced attack that includes midfielder Greg Cuccinello (Towson), attackman Billy Burgoyne (Stevenson), plus fellow attackman Andrew Portnoy.

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