EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ -- The East Brunswick boys lacrosse team put the finishing touches on its 2019 pre-season preparation with a road trip to West Point, N.Y. over the weekend.
The Saturday junket to play Oratory Prep in a final scrimmage helped get the Bears ready for their regular-season opener Wednesday on the road against Msgr. Farrell on Staten Island, N.Y. And head coach Rory Murray hopes that all sets the stage for big things for East Brunswick this spring.
Last year, the Bears had their best lacrosse season ever, a 13-7 campaign highlighted by a trip to the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament championship game.
"The West Point trip is a great opportunity to see Army play Colgate at noon and then use their facilities at 3 p.m. for our own game," Murray said. "Last year was the best season in East Brunswick program history. Lacrosse started here about 25 years or so ago."
There is plenty of cause for optimism on Cranbury Road that the Bears this season could take the next step and make more program history.
"The amount of experience within our starting group will be something that we lean heavily on this season," Murray said. "A few of these players have been starting now for four years and many of them have seen at least consistent time for the last three."
Murray counts at least 15 players back from last year's team who made significant contributions to the team's run to the county finals.
"We expect to rely on our experience this year, with nine starters returning, including four first-team all-GMC selections from last year: Sean Kelliher (Midfield), Timmy Gudzak (Attack), Joe DeGuida (Defense) and Christian Perrine (Specialist)," Murray said. Kelliher posted 49 goals and 25 assists last year. Gudzak finished with 38 goals and 35 assists. DeGuida had 198 ground balls to go with seven goals and five assists. And Perrine won 65 percent of his faceoffs in 2018.
"We will look to rely on Kelliher and Gudzak to lead a strong offensive group that will be rounded out by seniors Brad MacNiven, JT Serrao and Justin Cittadino, along with juniors Danny Robinson and Dylan Krug," Murray said. "On defense, senior Goalie Brian McDonald will anchor a group of very athletic and hard-working young men."
Seniors Josh Green, Stephan Berman, Nick Randzio and Brandon Walsh will be counted upon in front of McDonald on defense for East Brunswick.
"We have been very happy with the growth that juniors Danny Robertson and Dylan Krug have displayed through the preseason," Murray said. "We expect them to have a strong impact on our offense. Our two most consistent players over the last two years though have been our LSM Joe DeGuida and faceoff midfielder Christian Perrine. They work exceptionally well at the faceoff x together and we hope this gives us an advantage over many of the teams on our schedule."
With so much experience on this year's team, Murray hopes than translates into a more seasoned ability to close out games the proper way.
"Finishing games is part of consistency that you are always searching for. We had two instances last year where we gave up goals in waning seconds of games, including in GMC final," Murray said. "Those mental lapses come with youth sometimes. With the experience we bring back this year, it should help us commit to playing 48 minutes every game."
The coach envisions the team's chemistry as a positive, though.
"You try to get players comfortable in the system so that they work with each other," Murray said. "We really preach the concept of family and consistency, and you can really see in the senior class their connection to each other and their commitment."
East Brunswick Boys Lacrosse 2019 Roster:
Tim Gudzak - Sr - Attack - 2018 - 38G, 35A
JT Serrao - Sr - Attack - 2018 - 2G
Sean Kelliher - Sr - Midfield - 2018 - 49G, 25A
Bradley MacNiven - Sr - Midfield - 2018 - 12G, 7A
Christian Perrine - Sr - Midfield (F/O) - 2018 - 3G, 9A, 65%F/O
Joseph DeGuida - Sr - Defense (LSM) - 2018 - 7G, 5A, 198GB
Nick Randzio - Sr - Defense
Stephen Berman - Sr - Defense
Josh Green - Sr - Defense
Brian McDonald - Sr - Goalie - 2018 - 59% Sv
Justin Cittadino - Sr - Midfield - 2018 - 5G, 2A
Dylan Krug - Jr - Midfield - 2018 - 5G, 1A
Jonathan Wiener - Jr - Defense
Daniel Robertson - Jr - Attack - 2018 - 11G, 7A
Brandon Walsh - Sr - Defense
Nicholas Zades - Sr - Defense
Michael Pepe - Jr - Attack
Noah Keith - Jr - Defense
Ethan Keith - Jr - Midfield
Matthew DeGuida - Soph - Attack/Midfield
Vincent Bechler - Soph - Midfield
Matthew Tell - Fr - Attack
Steven Pepe - Fr - Midfield
TJ Lynch - Fr - Goalie