After finishing the 2019 season with a winning record of 11-7 while advancing to the NJSIAA North Jersey Group 1 Sectional Tournament, the Lenape Valley High School boy’s lacrosse program was more than ready to take the field this spring.
The Patriots, under the guidance of accomplished head coach Justin Meeth, topped Mahwah in the first round before falling to Glen Rock in the quarterfinal round of the Sectional Tournament last year. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck.
“We had a lengthy list of goals for the season, as we always do,’’ Meeth said. “Our top goals to accomplish were winning the Pooley League, winning the Colonial Conference, Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex semifinals or better and being a top four seed in our Section of the State Tournament.’’
Key returning student athletes to the varsity lineup for the Patriots included Anthony Madonna (senior, defensive midfield), Joey Thomas (senior, defense/long stick midfield), Michael Engelhardt (senior, midfield), Zach Miller (senior, defensive midfield), Drew Togno (junior, attack), Jake Spada (junior, goalie), Gavin Coles (junior, midfield), Trey Stasse (junior, defense), Sean Cooper (junior, defense), Justin Palumbo (junior, defense), and Jack LaVere (sophomore, attack).
Among the promising newcomers for Lenape Valley were Chris Braikovich (senior, defense), Connor Duffy (junior, defense/long stick midfield), Trey Kaplan (junior, defense/midfield), Jude Ashley (sophomore, midfield), Troy Brennan (freshmen, defense), and Braden Coles (freshmen, defense/long stick midfield).
“Our team has three named captains this season - Anthony Madonna, Jake Spada and Drew Togno,’’ Meeth said. “All three of these guys bring a different type of energy to the field. All three know how to lead with their voice and also love to lead with their play on the field. When one of these three guys comes away with a big play, the boys feed off of that. We play a style at Lenape with a lot of energy and tempo, and these three guys filter right into that.
“I view this team as one of the top contenders in our League. The last three years we have finished either first or second and a large portion of those successful teams are still on the roster. With the combo of the experience that has been picked up by the boys, we should continue to be right in the mix. The Pooley division is always fairly balanced and all of the games can come down to the wire. The one team that has played us tight the last few years is Hackettstown. Our last four games with Hackettstown all ended in one goal margins.’’
The spring high school sports season may have nipped in the bud, the student-athletes and coaches who participate in indoor and outdoor athletics deserve recognition.
“I view this team as one of the top contenders in our League.” -- Head Coach Justin Meeth