The East Brunswick High School seniors are devoted to boys’ lacrosse–and each other, too.
There are 14 seniors on the Bears’ varsity team in 2019, and most of them have been playing together since fifth grade.
Nine will continue playing in college next year. Three defensemen, Nick Randzio, Steven Berman and Josh Green, will even play together at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pa.
Talented teams that like each other usually succeed. These Bears have done that, finishing above .500 in each of their first three high school seasons.
Last spring, East Brunswick reached the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament final and the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament quarterfinals.
East Brunswick lost to Monroe Township High School, 7-6, in the GMC championship game and to Montgomery High School, 14-4, in the state sectional matchup. But still, in 2018 this class took the Bears to new heights.
Before they arrived at the school in 2016, East Brunswick’s boys’ lacrosse program was an afterthought. The Bears suffered through losing seasons in coach Rory Murray’s first four campaigns.
“The growth of this program can be attributed to this senior class,” Murray said. “I am very excited to see how they will fair in their senior season.”
East Brunswick’s 2019 campaign began on March 27 with a 13-3 road victory over Monsignor Farrell High School in Staten Island, N.Y. The Bears are 1-1 through two games.
While Murray did not outline specific goals before the season, he did say he expects his team to enjoy “a very successful season.”
And the coach has every reason to expect that. His Bears display all the characteristics of a high school team on the verge of its big year.
They have upperclassmen across the lineup, a ton of game experience and next level talent.
It starts up front with senior midfielder Sean Kelliher and senior attack Tim Gudzak. Kelliher recorded 49 goals and 25 assists in 2018. Gudzak racked up 38 goals and 35 assists. Both made the All-GMC First Team.
“They should lead a strong offensive group,” Murray said.
That group is rounded out by the duo’s classmates. Senior midfielder Bradley MacNiven posted 12 goals and seven assists a year ago, entrenching himself as the third big scorer, the Glen Rice to Kelliher’s Shaquille O’Neal and Gudzak’s Kobe Bryant.
Senior midfielders Christian Perrine and Joseph DeGuida kept the Bears in possession of the ball, the most important analytical measuring stick in lacrosse. Perrine, East Brunswick’s face off specialist, won 65 percent of his attempts. DeGuida scooped up 198 ground balls. Both were First Team All-GMC selections in their own right.
So East Brunswick has the best scorers in the GMC, the best possession creators in the league and a senior defensive trio that is stingy enough to convince a college coach to let them stay together. It even has a senior goalie, Brian McDonald, who recorded a 59 save percentage last spring and will play collegiate lacrosse at DeSales University in Lehigh County, Pa.
Murray’s squad is loaded, and cohesive. It just has to get better at one thing, which comes with experience.
“We struggled to finish games last year,” Murray said. “One of our focuses as a coaching staff has been to reinforce playing a full 48 minutes.”
In the 2018 GMC championship, East Brunswick allowed a goal in the final minute that forced overtime and led to its loss.
The Bears will try finish strong this year, in games and in their careers.