NEWTON, NJ—For the Newton High School boys lacrosse team 2017 has been an historic year. The team won their first New Jersey Athletic Conference Independence Division title with an undefeated record. Also for the first time they hosted and won a state championship game.
To go along with a season of firsts, Nick Krawchuk was the first to be recruited to play Division I college lacrosse. Krawchuk will play for NJIT.
Newton has six players selected for the NJILL Pooley division teams:
- Ryan Vandenberg- First Team NJILL Pooley Division
- Kyle Vandenberg- First Team NJILL Pooley Division
- Nick Krawchuk- Second Team NJILL Pooley Division
- PJ Russell- Second Team NJILL Pooley Division
- Logan Kellenberger-Second Team NJILL Pooley Division
- Grant Parker- Honorable Mention NJILL Pooley Division
Additionally Newton had seven players named to the NJAC Independence Division teams:
- Ryan Vandenberg- First Team NJAC Independence Division
- Kyle Vandenberg-First Team NJAC Independence Division
- Nick Krawchuk- First Team NJAC Independence Division
- PJ Russell - Second Team NJAC Independence Division
- Logan Kellenberger- Second Team NJAC Independence Division
- Grant Parker - Second Team NJAC Independence Division
- Andrew Chrustic - Honorable Mention NJAC Independence Division
Head Coach, Brian Bennington said the team started the season with a strong offensive unit, which was led by three veteran players at attack, along with several seasoned midfield lines, while the defense was anchored by two returning seniors.
Newton was able to earn key wins early in the season, which included their wins against Lenape Valley, North Warren, and Kittatinny, which was not only a NJAC division win, but also a win for the Beatty cup - a trophy game, according to Bennington.
Although the team suffered multiple injuries throughout the season, the team “never put their heads down and never lost sign of the goal they set back in March, which was to be the first Newton lacrosse team to raise a banner in the high school gym, which could only be achieved after winning the division,” Bennington said.
To the players on the Newton boys lacrosse team, the banner symbolized strength, unity and pride. Every huddle throughout the season was broke with the same word, family, which according to Bennington, is "what they truly were and how they acted towards each other on and off the field.”
In order to make their goal a reality, the team needed to come out undefeated in the NJAC Independence Division, and the only thing that stood in their way was the final season game against Morris Catholic.
After winning against North Warren the day before in a “hard fought” game that ended in overtime, the team knew, Bennington said "the game with Morris Catholic would be a battle.”
The beginning of the game looked to favor of Morris Catholic as they took an early two goal lead, but the "Newton family" came back and went into halftime with a score of 9-6, taking a three goal lead.
“At halftime, led by the seniors, the family came together, yet again and as words of encouragement and perseverance reenergized the team, they took to the field for the second half,” Bennington said.
Newton led 15-12 until the final buzzer sounded. The Newton fans on the sideline and Newton players emptied onto the field for the victory that would make the Newton High School boys lacrosse team’s goal of getting that banner a reality. They had just clinched the NJAC Independence division with an undefeated record.