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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

St. Joseph lacrosse opens season with two wins

Red hot Wildcats rout Camden Catholic, Millville

MILLVILLE—St. Joseph Academy’s boys lacrosse team entered the season not knowing what to expect. A first-year varsity program, the Wildcats have a young roster without much varsity experience and head coach Bryce Young has tried to keep the goals at a reasonable level for his team.

During the preseason, Young spoke of growing the program and working to see his players improve every day with the goal to eventually be a competitive team. If early season play means anything, the Wildcats are well on their way to reaching some of their more modest goals.

St. Joe opened its season last week with a pair of lopsided wins, defeating both Camden Catholic and Millville by a combined score of 33-2.

“I think the guys are playing hard. Obviously, there’s a lot to work on, but that’s the beauty of the season. You have 18-plus games to get better each game. But the guys continue to show up at practice, work hard and they’re evolving. So, I think as a coach, that’s all you can ask for. I’m proud of them. But we still have a lot to work on,” Young said.

Dan Russoman/THG. St. Joseph’s Ryder Willett (1) reaches to steal the ball from a Millville players during last week’s victory.

Taking on a much more experienced Camden Catholic program to begin the season, St. Joe took control in the first quarter and rolled to 16-1 win.

Jake Apel scored six goals in the win, adding two assists. Kieran MacDonald and Liam Fox added three goals each, while Ryder Willett, Cole Brubaker, Caleb Ziegler and Anthony Afanador also scored.

In goal, Cayden Banks made three saves for the win.

Two days later, on April 5, St. Joe squared off against another first-year varsity program when it visited Millville for a Cape Atlantic League matchup.

Once again, the Wildcats controlled the pace of the game, forcing the action toward the Thunderbolts goal, grabbing an early lead and cruising to a 17-1 win.

Apel led the way with five goals, adding two assists, while Willett scored three times and Brubaker and Fox each scored twice. MacDonald, Ziegler, Afanador, Derrell Wilder and Nathan Weldon each added a goal while Banks recorded three saves.

The two lopsided wins have given the Wildcats some early season confidence.

“Definitely. [Starting well is] cool for the program. I’m very happy for the guys. They deserve it. But, you know, it’s a long season, so it’s never too high, never, never too low. You’re never as good as you think you are. Never as bad as you think you are. I think that kind of applies here. And I think we’re, we’re heading in the right direction. I think they need to continue to work hard and come to practice every day with the mindset to get better,” Young said.

While the Wildcats have dominated in two games, Young said he is more concerned about improving than putting goals on the scoreboard.

“You see the scores and you think, ‘OK.’ But I know as a coach, there’s things you see that most folks don’t. I’m not too concerned about the scoreboard. I’m concerned about them playing the game the right way and developing the right way,” he said.

With some tougher games ahead, St. Joseph will keep working hard with the hope it can contend for a division title in its first varsity season.

“We definitely have some good teams ahead of us, which is awesome. I’m excited and I’m excited for our guys, for the opportunity for them to step on the field with some of these teams. But we have a lot to work on before we take the field with some of those teams,” Young said.

Earlier this week, St. Joe played at Middle Twp. but that game ended too late for this edition. On April 12, the Wildcats play at Absegami at 4 p.m.


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