Chaminade‘s senior class endured plenty of unforeseen circumstances before getting to its first Regs Rock game against Manhasset, so waiting a couple of extra days to finally play in the famed game was just another minor speed bump.
The game itself was established in honor of Jimmy Regan, a Manhasset native who starred at Chaminade before going on to play at Duke. Regan was killed in action while serving with the U.S. Army 75th Ranger Regiment Soldiers. He became an Army Ranger and completed two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq before being killed by an IED in his second stint in Iraq.
His memory serves as an inspiration to many in the game, particularly those in the Manhasset and Chaminade communities. The game also collects donations to the Army Ranger Lead the Way Fund. CLICK HERE to donate.
Gary Correa, SPLASH!
— NLF (@natlaxfed) May 13, 2022
Leading the Way
It’s a game that’s firmly entrenched as a major community event in Manhasset and has been for years. There are a handful of Manhasset residents on Chaminade, too, and for them, playing in this game has been a lifelong goal. They weren’t on varsity as freshmen in 2019, the last time the game was played after getting wiped out for Covid reasons for two straight years. Then the game was supposed to be played last Saturday, but terrible weather on Long Island postponed it one more time to Thursday.
This time? No more waiting, and the group that often used that same Manhasset field to hone its skills put them on full display in Chaminade’s 17-8 rout of the Indians. One Manhasset native, Christian Alacqua (Long Island Express / Notre Dame) ripped home four goals. Another, NLF No. 7 senior Charles Balsamo (Express / Duke) tallied three times and added an assist. One more for good measure? Ryan Landolphi (Navy) bagged a hat trick for the Flyers, including a pair of nearly identical EMO stepdowns from Gavin Creo (Express / Richmond).
The Flyers took home a huge win, but the biggest thing on anyone’s mind was playing for Regan and the spirit he embodied. It was also a dream come true for many of the players.
“It’s my first varsity one and I can’t believe it’s over. That went by pretty fast,” Balsamo said. “I was waiting for this one all year. We got the win, which I’m ecstatic about, and I’m happy we got to play this one. The St. Anthony’s rivalry is pure competition, but this game had a little bit more of a greater sense around it. Especially with Jimmy, playing around my buddies, this is where I learned to play. I have so much love for Manhasset and it’s my home. … This game’s bigger than all of the players.”
Long Time Coming
“Me and Charles have been thinking about this game for literally 10 years,” Alacqua added. “It’s the biggest game of my life and it feels so good to win. I was so nervous before the game. Everyone in the stands, I’d never played in front of those guys. The best thing you can have as a player is an early start. It kind of calms the nerves and builds up the confidence and that’s what I did, luckily for me.”
That feeling transcended to the other sideline, too. Balsamo, Alacqua and NLF No. 2 ’22 and Manhasset star midfielder Joey Terenzi (Express / Virginia) are all best friends, so there was a surreal feeling for them when they finally found themselves on opposite sidelines. They’ll find themselves competing for three different ACC schools next year, so it won’t be the last time that they go up against each other.
“I called Christian and I said, ‘this is the only game all year that I’m actually kind of nervous for,'” Terenzi said “Just because we’ve been best friends since we were four years old and now we’re playing against each other and competing. I told Chuck that I never want to compete against him because he’s my best friend and I love him to death. It felt weird, but it’s for such a good cause and it’s to honor Jimmy Regan, so there’s nothing better.”
Fast Start Fuels the Flyers
There certainly was a fast start in this one… and it wasn’t for Chaminade. The Flyers had to make a last-second goalie swap when usual starter Colm Flynn (Express) got nicked up. Being that this is one of the country’s premier goalie pipelines, his backup, Phil Verdi (Express) is a junior Johns Hopkins commit and one of the top goalies in the class of 2023.
He got a rude welcome to the game when junior Duke commit and NLF No. 85 ’23 Cal Girard won the opening faceoff and beat Verdi with a high rocket. That was as good as things got for the Indians, though, because once Chaminade started scoring, the Flyers couldn’t stop.
Alacqua and Balsamo scored 45 seconds apart, then Creo bagged back-to-back tallies to put Chaminade up 4-1. Cal Petersen (Harvard) got Manhasset back in it, only to have the Flyers score the next five. The Indians were never able to string any runs together, and when Chaminade did, the goals came in droves.
“We came out here and we’re playing for something way bigger than ourselves,” Creo said. “We’re playing for No. 19. That’s a really big part of who we are at Chaminade. We’re playing for Jimmy, and I think that united us and really allowed us to come out firing out of the gates.”
Sights Set on June
The defending Nassau County Class C champions have had their share of surprising struggles this year. Having said that, there’s still plenty to like about the Indians, and there’s no doubt that they’ve got the talent to make a deep postseason run.
Terenzi and Dawson Rielly (Bryant) each tallied twice for Manhasset. Girard won 15 of 23 faceoffs to go with the goal, while Petersen, Hunter Panzik (Air Force) and Donald Mack all tallied once. Getting through Nassau County and off of Long Island is hard enough, but if the Indians can do that, they’ll be in a great place to compete for a state championship.
This night, though, was all about Jimmy Regan.
Christian Alacqua, midfield, Chaminade / Long Island Express / Notre Dame
It’s the second time that I’ve seen Alacqua in person this year – he also stood out against rival St. Anthony’s in April – and it’s the second time that he’s shown significant offensive growth. He used to predominantly work as a two-way guy for Express, using his elite speed to thrive in transition. The jets are still there, but he’s learned to harness them more offensively. Alacqua is much more comfortable in 6v6 offense and he parked some nice shots against Manhasset. The Notre Dame signee shook his man at X and tossed in a lefty shot, grabbed a ground ball in traffic off of a Gavin Creo ride and snapped it home and then finished the hat trick by dunking a Charles Balsamo feed on the pipe. Jack Flaherty (Team 91 Long Island / Navy) then set him up for his fourth.
“I’ve been working with (Express coach) Matt Chanenchuk and he’s been helping my game a lot,” Alacqua said. “Both hands, not just running down the alley, rollbacks, having my head up and making the extra pass. The players around me did a great job of spacing out, moving through to the open spots and I just kind of had the easy job.”
The Flyers’ offensive ringleader, the Manhasset native made his impact felt in his first and last Regs Rock game with three goals and an assist. He got involved early by blasting a low-to-low shot home from top center, then later tossed home another worm burner from the wing. The Duke signee’s best goal – and the game’s best goal, for that matter – came when he dodged down the alley and murdered the crossbar with a high-to-high crank. It’s a testament to his versatility that he can be a threat to score all over then field, and he also had a nifty feed from X to Alacqua for a tap-in on the post.
“(The bardown shot) was the little cherry on top,” Balsamo said with a smile. “I’ve trained myself hundreds of hours on this field, taken thousands of shots, and that’s what it takes to do what we did tonight from all of the guys on my team.”
Gavin Creo, attack, Chaminade / Long Island Express / Richmond
Creo’s not very big, but he’s got a very high IQ and he plays really hard. The future Spider finished the night with a game-best six points on three goals and three assists, which flashed his versatility. He had a couple of goals early to get the Flyers’ offense going, but his most impressive first-half play didn’t end in a point. Creo hounded a Manhasset player on the clear and caused a turnover with a hard check. Alacqua picked up the ground ball and snapped it home, but it was Creo’s work ethic and smarts that made the play happen.
Creo also tossed out some nice passes, including back-to-back dimes from X to set up nearly identical Ryan Landolphi EMO stepdown blasts. He dodges with his head up and understands where slides are coming from and how to beat them.
“We played in the summer a little bit and we were growing some chemistry there,” Creo said. “We’re all really freaking close. We’re brothers, to say the least. We’ve bonded and it’s translated to the field.”
The newly-minted five-star defender was very good on the back end for the Flyers once again. Fox is a disciplined defender who knows what his matchup’s looking to do, and he stays patient in coverage. Fox primarily covered senior lefty Dawson Rielly, and while the explosive Bryant signee had a pair of goals, Fox only ceded one of them. He’s got a great frame at about 6-1, 180 pounds, and can play a power game or a speed game. Fox threw good checks and made guys find matchups elsewhere.
Colm Flynn, goalie, Chaminade / Long Island Express
It sounds weird to say in a 17-8 game, but Manhasset had an opportunity to claw its way back into the game. That was until Flynn came up huge with some 10-bell saves early in the second half. The senior’s been the starter all year, but he got dinged in warmups and ceded the way to junior understudy PJ Verdi (LI Express / Johns Hopkins). When Verdi got hurt making a point-blank save at the end of the first half, Flynn came in, and he got to work right away.
He had a gem of a kick save to kill an Indians EMO to start the half, then later came up with a stupendous cross-body save. Chaminade’s offense got humming shortly thereafter to put the game out of reach, but without the best of Flynn’s eight saves, it could have been an entirely different game.
“It was definitely weird going in at half coming off of starting every game,” Flynn said. “Getting that first shot under you as a save is big, and in a big moment like man-up, to get a big clear was huge. My teammates were really supportive. Coach told them before I went in that I got hurt and they were all playing a lot harder after that.”
Flynn’s size was probably one of the biggest reasons why Division I offers never materialized. However, it’s surprising that high-end Division III schools didn’t break down the door to make him a part of their class. He’ll study SEC football and its surrounding perks at South Carolina.
Girard wasted no time in making his impact felt. The four-star junior won the game’s opening faceoff, exploded past everyone and ripped a stick-side mid-to-high rip for a 1-0 Manhasset lead seven seconds into the game. He finished 15 for 23 despite getting a little jumpy at times – he went early three times against Chaminade’s impressive freshman Quinn Ball – and showed a variety of exits and counters. Girard’s best attribute might be his explosiveness when going forward. His first step helps him get separation to then put defenders in conflict on the fast break.
Terenzi has had some quiet games this spring. However, it was a certainty that he’d find a way to do some damage when going up against his best friends in Balsamo and Alacqua. An athletically-gifted middie who runs really well, Terenzi had a pair of goals for the Indians. He hammered a righty high-to-high blast early on, then added a lefty version of the high-to-high. The ball quickly comes off his stick. When that shooting ability is paired with his athleticism, you get a midfielder that was a very high priority for Virginia in the ’22 class.
Terenzi’s biggest priority, though, is helping Manhasset win a state title. He’s all too aware of how he and the Indians will have to get there. You’ve got to win Long Island first, and the most likely scenario features Manhasset against NLF No. 1 ’22 Joey Spallina (Team 91 Long Island / Syracuse) and Mount Sinai in the Class C championship game. The two teams played in last year’s game, where Spallina scored the game-winner in the game’s final minute. A game like this can only sharpen Manhasset’s resolve to win it all.
“We were talking about how we’ve had some tough losses this year, and we were saying how this only makes us better going into playoffs,” Terenzi said. “We know who we’re going to play at the end, and it’s probably Joey Spallina and Mount Sinai, so if this prepares us for that game, it’s worth it.”
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Chaminade 17, Manhasset 8
Chaminade 5 6 3 3 — 17
Manhasset 2 3 1 2 — 8
Christian Alacqua ’22 (LI Express / Notre Dame) 4 goals
Gavin Creo ’23 (LI Express / Richmond) 3 goals, 3 assists
Charles Balsamo ’22 (NLF No. 7 ’22 / LI Express / Duke) 3 goals 1 assist
Ryan Landolphi ’23 (Navy) 3 goals
Jack Flaherty ’22 (Team 91 LI / Navy) 1 goal, 1 assist
Gary Correa ’23 (LI Express) 1 goal, 1 assist
Justin McMahon ’22 (LI Express / Penn) 1 goal
Matt Byrnes ’22 (LI Express / Navy) 1 goal
Quinn Ball ’25 (LI Express) 8-for-20 faceoffs
Noah Filippelli ’22 (LI Express) 0-for-3 faceoffs
Colm Flynn ’22 (LI Express) 8 saves
PJ Verdi ’23 (LI Express / Johns Hopkins) 4 saves
Joey Terenzi ’22 (NLF No. 2 ’22 / LI Express / Virginia) 2 goals
Dawson Rielly ’22 (Bryant) 2 goals
Cal Girard ’23 (NLF No. 85 ’23 / Duke) 1 goal, 15-for-23 faceoffs
Jack Petersen ’23 (Harvard) 1 goal
Hunter Panzik ’22 (Air Force) 1 goal
Donald Mack ’23 1 goal
Matt Perfetto ’22 (Cornell) 1 assist
Matt Im ’24 3 saves, 12 goals allowed
Tyler Godfrey ’22 (LI Express) 1 save, 5 goals allowed