Pope John boys lacrosse; Year in review

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  • Pope John boys lacrosse team in a pre-game rally.

By Josh Lashley

Any confidence, trust, believability that Chris Hoffman, the head coach the for Pope John High School boys lacrosse program had in the student-athletes on his roster prior to the start of the regular season proved right on the mark nearly as soon as the regular season got underway this spring.

A win in the early going this year set a very good tone for the Lions which carried them to considerable heights against strong competition.

Pope John tallied an overall record of 12-7 and they were Co-Champions in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference United Division with a 4-1 mark.

The Lions also had two victories in the NJILL Rizk Division.

They advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA State Non-Public Group A Tournament.

“Our second game of the season when we held Mendham to three goals (an 11-3 victory on March 31) and our senior attackman Tyler Humphrey set a school record with eight goals that game,’’ Hoffman said. “Another great game was our first round of the State Tournament where we had a home playoff game and played a tough opponent Notre Dame for a second time. We were able to play tough defense and earn a victory in overtime (8-7 on May 20).

“Our last game against Seton Hall Prep was exciting as we were tied with them going into the fourth quarter. The team made great adjustments during halftime and outscored the Pirates 4-0 in the third quarter. ‘’

The Lions most definitely had consistent and valued leadership this season.

“Tyler Humphrey is the hardest working person I have ever coached and he was elected First Team All Rizk and First Team All United,’’ Hoffman said. “Brad Mackie has been a starting defenseman since his sophomore year and is the most consistent player on the roster. He was elected First Team All Rizk and First Team All United, with also being named to the Honorable Mention All State Team for Non Public Groups.

“The coaching staff expected a lot out of Max Merlino, junior goalie, but he exceeded those expectations. This year he had 226 saves, 29 ground balls, 64% save percentage and commanded a defense allowing 7.22 goals per game. He was elected Second Team All Rizk and Honorable Mention All State Team for Non Publics.’’

The contributions received from the graduating class of 2017 won’t be soon forgotten.

“We graduate 14 seniors and they provided great leadership and direction towards the program that will have a lasting impact on the younger players,’’ Hoffman said. “The game against Seton Hall Prep proved that under our system, we can compete with any team in New Jersey.’’

NOTES: Coach Hoffman mentioned those student-athletes who will be competing in lacrosse at the collegiate level:

Ed May, midfield, First Team All Rizk, First Team All United, Honorable Mention All State, committed to Marist.

Connor McCoy, attack, Second Team All Rizk, Second Team All United, committed to Mount St. Mary’s.

Shane Plokhoy, midfield, Honorable Mention All Rizk, committed to NJIT.

Tyler Humphrey, attack, First Team All Rizk, First Team All United, committed to Susquehanna.

Ryan McCoy, defense, Second Team All Rizk, Second Team All United, committed to Montclair State.

Brad Mackie, First Team All Rizk, First Team All United, Honorable Mention All State, committed to Belmont Abbey.

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