Chaminade captures 'Reg's Rock'
Often in sports clichés get thrown around to describe the bond that exists between players. You hear things like brotherhood, family and all for one, one for all.
On Saturday afternoon Chaminade and Manhasset renewed a lacrosse rivalry that has more to do with that bond and less to do with the final tally on the scoreboard. For the fifth-straight year the two sides met not only to determine lacrosse supremacy on Long Island, but also to remind as all what makes our nation the greatest in the world.
“To get to do what we do, play this game we love, someone is paying the bill and that’s what today is all about,” said Chaminade coach Jack Moran. “Someone is watching over to make sure no one harms us and it might sound like Hollywood TV stuff, but our kids believe that and they respect it every day. It gives us a feeling of being connected to those that make the ultimate sacrifice and that’s really special.”
The “Lead the Way Fund” was established in memory of Sgt. James J. Regan, a Manhasset native and Chaminade alumnus who was killed in action in February of 2007 while on combat patrol with his Army Ranger unit in northern Iraq.
In Jimmy’s memory the Lacrosse Day for Heroes was started in 2008 and with Chaminade’s 13-5 win on Saturday, the series now stands at 3-2 Manhasset. Most that knew him agree though that Jimmy would have simply rooted for a good game if he were still on the sideline.
“This is what Jimmy loved, he loved his school, he loved his community and he was the best player on one of the best teams we have ever had and he loved every second of it,” said coach Moran. “He loved the team and he loved lacrosse. I can’t think of a better way that Jimmy would want to be honored.”
“He was a student and neighbor of mine,” said Manhasset coach Billy Cherry of Regan, “he was a special guy, part of a special unit with the toughest job there is. To be able to honor Jimmy, his sacrifice and our armed services with a great game against a great team, win lose or draw, it’s a great day.”
Against one of the best squads in America, Manhasset simply dug itself too deep of hole to recover from, despite fighting valiantly. The Flyers came storming out of the gate, potting two goals before a minute of time had even run off the first quarter clock and jumping out to a 5-0 lead by the time the first had ended.
“We know how much the game means to coach Regan, he has been emotional all week talking to us about how important it is,” said Chaminade attackman Ryan Lukacovic, who scored a hat trick on the day. “Coach delivered an unbelievable pregame speech and needless to say we came out fired up to play.”
Coach Regan is James’ father Jim, who as an assistant has made an indelible mark on the team not only as a leader, but also as a great lacrosse mind.
“We hit two exceptional shots to start the game, I mean off-hip backside of the cage with a ton of velocity and that gave us a lot of energy,” said Moran. “Coach Regan gets a ton of credit for that, he has been working with the boys on shooting technique because he is a guru and you saw it today; we really shot the ball extremely well. His expertise is invaluable.”
Chaminade rode that wave of emotion a quick start in the first quarter and before the Indians had a chance to catch their breath they were down 7-0. The Flyers dominated face offs as well as ground balls, which led to a huge possession advantage over Manhasset on the day.
“Our play on ground balls was really a huge difference, we were in a groundball frenzy. It seemed like we were winning every ground ball, that advantage in possession helped us limit the really talented offensive guys that they have,“ said Moran.
To its credit, Manhasset would battle hard to make it a game in the third quarter and would cut the score to 9-4 on the strength of a Quinn Moroney goal. But when Thomas Zenker stole a Manhasset clearing pass and scored with just two seconds left in the frame, all of the wind came rushing out of the Indian’s sails.”
“When we got it to 9-4 we were starting to chip away but we were already in a hole and against a team like that it’s almost impossible to recover,” said coach Cherry. “We just weren’t crisp and a good team makes you pay for every mistake and they did. I’m happy our boys battled, but when we gave up that goal to make it 10-4 you had the feeling six was going to be too many to make up.”
Not impossible against some teams but against the stifling defense of Chaminade, a six goal hill looked like Mount Everest. The Flyers balanced attack got goals from six different scorers on the day and once it got ahead, the defense and the Flyers' ride took over.
“Solid for the most part, a couple of lapses but we did really well to keep their big guns off the board,” said Duke-bound defender Brian Dunne. “I was lined up against Quinn Moroney for most of the day and he’s one of the best players in the country, so to limit him to just a goal and their offense to five is a pretty good day for us.”
The opening salvo for the game was fittingly fired by Chaminade’s Matthew Graham, who was given the honor of wearing Regan’s #19 by his teammates at the start of the season. The senior middie had a big day with a couple goals and an assist and was one of seven Flyers to find the back of the net on the afternoon.
“We really have a complete team, one of the best I’ve ever had,” said Moran. “Our ’99 team had nine Division I players but this team is pretty close. We are very solid in all areas of the game and it’s also a great group, we have a lot of fun in practice and they know I love them.”
For now, the “Reg’s Rock” trophy belongs to Chaminade but the real winners on Saturday were Long Island and the sport of lacrosse. Even in defeat, Manhasset was honored and proud to have been part of something that has become one of the best things in all of sports, not just high school.
“We love it, it’s a chance to promote our sport as well as honor our armed forces, it’s a great feeling to be able to contribute even if just in a small way,” said an upbeat Jim Cherry following the loss. “This is really what it’s all about, it’s all about brotherhood, real brotherhood and that’s what these teams and these communities are all about. It makes you feel very lucky.”
For more information about the Lead the Way Fund including how to make a donation please visit their website at www.leadthewayfund.org
Contact John Quirk at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @QuirkMedia