It was an impressive run.
First, Saint Joseph Regional High School’s boys’ lacrosse team earned the No. 2 seed in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament and a first-round bye. Then it controlled a GMC Tournament quarterfinal matchup with seventh-seeded Edison High School, winning 17-1 on May 6 in Metuchen.
Finally, the Falcons edged a talented East Brunswick High School squad, 9-8, in a GMC semifinal on May 8 at home. First-year Saint Joseph Regional coach Rob Auletti was particularly pleased with that victory.
“They have a lot of good kids on that team,” he said. “I like playing them because it’s always good competition.”
The run, though, ended in defeat on May 10 at East Brunswick. On Cranbury Road, the Metuchen school fell to top-seeded Monroe Township High School, 9-6, in the GMC Tournament championship game.
Auletti knew that his Falcons faced a tall task going into that game. Monroe entered the contest with a 21-game conference winning streak, and it exited with a 22-game winning streak.
“They are the team to beat,” Auletti said.
But the Metuchen school’s GMC run showed that, while it may not be the team to beat yet, in any tournament, it is a team to reckon with. The Falcons will be the No. 5 seed in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group A Tournament.
The field will include a bunch of talented private school squads, like No. 1 seed Paul VI High School, No. 2 seed Seton Hall Preparatory School and No. 3 seed Notre Dame High School, who all have undefeated records against their respective leagues. But Auletti’s Falcons are also a talented private school club with an impressive resume against its conference.
“We just have to go and execute,” he said. “Working together, no silly mistakes, make some saves, win some face offs and we’ll be ok.”
In Auletti’s first season leading the program, the Falcons have developed into a well rounded club. They are 10-5 and have outscored opponents 149-81.
Senior Brian Gates, with 25 goals, sophomore Brady Patterson, who has 22 goals, senior Robert Okupski, who has recorded 18 tallies, and junior Jack Moore, with 16 goals, have sparked the offense. So has senior Michael Cardinali, who leads the Falcons with 35 assists.
In Saint Joseph Regional’s GMC semifinal victory over East Brunswick, junior Sean Gebauer controlled the face off circle, as he often does. In that same game, sophomore goaltender Augie Granatelli held the Bears to three goals in the first half.
“Augie played outstanding,” Auletti said. “If you hold that team to three goals in a half that’s a good way to start the game. He kept us in it for sure.”
The Falcons can win on both sides of the field. They will need to in order to make a run in a field with private school powers.
“We just got to go play,” Auletti said.
“These seniors have been an amazing group. They’ve really been working hard,” he added. “I didn’t really know what to expect in my first year, but the leadership has been great. If everybody does their job, we should be ok.”