It had all the makings of another classic installment of one of the country’s top rivalries.
Chaminade‘s Ott Field buzzed with the perfect atmosphere for the latest battle between the Flyers and archrival St. Anthony’s. Fans were loud, chirps flew left and right, and the hosts had just gotten their deficit down to two thanks to consecutive goals from the Long Island Express trio of Gary Correa, Notre Dame signee Christian Alacqua and Duke signee Charles Balsamo in a matter of 126 seconds of gameplay.
The potential upset of the NLF’s No. 1 team in the country was in full swing, especially since the faceoff pendulum had swung hard toward the Flyers of late. Everything was going Chaminade’s way when it needed it.
Until it wasn’t.
Avalanche Going Downhill
Junior Harvard commit Jackson Greene (Team 91 LI) got the ball, sprinted more than 50 yards downfield and hammered home a high-to-high shot 66 seconds after Balsamo tallied his second of the game. Less than a minute later, North Carolina commit Owen Duffy (Team 91 LI) zipped a superb skip pass to the backside on a man-up. Teammate Michael Leo (Team 91 LI) did the rest, the Syracuse signee sending a low-to-high shot right to the penthouse.
The rout was back on, and the Friars never looked back. Final score: St. Anthony’s 19, Chaminade 10, and a decisive salvo fired across the bow in the first of likely three meetings.
“It’s great, I love it,” Friars goalie Will Snyder (LI Express / Fairfield) said. “You look forward to these games and circle them on the calendar. These games are so much fun. The atmosphere is great. The fans, especially here at Chaminade, you can hear them chirping you and it fires you up.”
Not that St. Anthony’s needed much motivation. Familiarity breeds contempt, and the Friars and Flyers are plenty familiar with each other. The two teams split the regular season series last year before St. Anthony’s came out on top in the championship game. This one wasn’t as close. Leo and Duffy each had five points, while Jack Ponzio (Team 91 LI / Navy) torched No. 13 Chaminade for three goals and four points.
“Our coaches brought us in and told us that we had to stay relaxed and stay composed,” LSM Luke Martin (Team 91 LI / Johns Hopkins) said. “They gave us our matchups this week during practices. They did a very good job of preparing us. We just had to go out and do what they told us to do.
“There’s no better feeling in the world. Everybody knows that this is the biggest high school lacrosse rivalry in the country and there’s no game like the Chaminade – St. Anthony’s game,” Martin continued. The energy is great. Energy being high and bodies flying around helps us. We embrace it and we flourish from it.”
The Flyers knew that they couldn’t give the Friars’ ridiculously potent offense too many chances, and once Chaminade started taking penalties, St. Anthony’s started taking no prisoners.
“They’ve got nine guys who can really all go,” longtime Chaminade and LI Express coach Jack Moran said. “Intensity and all, we were fine, but we cut it to two and we started fouling people. You can’t foul ’em. To their credit, they stuck their shots. It’s a good learning curve for us. You get good opportunities to beat a really good team, you’ve got to score. Our goal was to keep them at 12. If we can keep them at 12, then we’ve got a shot, but it got away from us in the second half.”
Offensive Firepower Galore
St. Anthony’s, which takes on St. John’s (D.C.) next Friday in what projects as a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game, looked every bit like top team in the country. Ten players found the back of the net at least once, with Pat Carragher (LI Express / Penn State) and Greene joining Duffy, Leo and Ponzio in the multi-point club.
“It’s a lot of off-ball stuff,” Chaminade sophomore defenseman Ben Fox said. “They’re cutting like crazy, so every time we slide and there’s a guy open, we’ve got to be really, really hot to recover there. Every time we slid, they got a nice cut. I feel like our man-to-man defense is pretty strong. They didn’t beat us too much on man-to-man, so as long as we can cover up our back end, I think we’ll be good moving forward.”
St. Anthony’s – Chaminade Standouts
Christian Alacqua ’22, midfield, Chaminade / Long Island Express / Notre Dame
Alacqua, who flipped to the Irish from Cornell in December, led the Flyers offensively. Long known for his straight-line speed – he’s one of the fastest players in the country – and transition work, Alacqua showed a more refined offensive game against the Friars. He got on the board in the first quarter with a nifty inside roll finish and also had a stepdown blast to highlight his three-goal, one-assist performance. St. Anthony’s focused on a ton on the Flyers’ attackmen, which opened things up for the talented midfielder to work.
Alacqua’s speed and athleticism will be what helps him get on the field in South Bend. He showed explosiveness in the open field, and if he continues his improved offensive game, he’ll make a sizeable impact for the Irish.
Ben Fox ’24, defense, Chaminade / Team 91 Long Island
Part of a defensive crew that helped the Team 91 Long Island Wolfpack to a 2024 national championship this summer at UMass, Fox looks the part of a big-time college defenseman. He checks in at 6-2, 185 pounds, but he moves really well for a guy his size. Fox has already established himself as the Flyers’ top close defenseman as a sophomore and he’s also a very high-academic student, a duo of things that bodes well for him on Sept. 1.
Fox plays with sandpaper to his game, not afraid to get physical and threw checks to inflict pain. He did a nice job in 1v1 coverage and used his size to push back against some older offensive options for the Friars. His off-ball defense has improved, as has his stick, and he didn’t back down from anyone on the St. Anthony’s roster.
Michael Leo ’22, attack, St. Anthony’s / Team 91 Long Island / Syracuse
Trying to stop the Friars has to be such a miserable experience. There are so many different options who can pop off on any day, but you can basically set your watch to Leo having a big game. The ‘Cuse-bound lefty finished with four goals and an assist, showcasing his shooting range, but also flashing the ability to finish in tight.
Leo had an excellent low-to-low finish in traffic early on. He was also the beneficiary of a couple of terrific feeds from NLF No. 3 ’23 Owen Duffy (Team 91 LI / North Carolina), including a gorgeous low-to-high bomb off of a Duffy skip pass on the man-up. St. Anthony’s also seemed to feed off of his energy, and he certainly wasn’t afraid to let Chaminade players know what he thought of them. He’s also pretty bullish on how good the Friars can be.
“I always try to start off strong so they can get sliding and I can draw the double quick,” Leo said. “Just try to move the ball as best as I can. I don’t think we’ve played our best game yet. Once we start moving the ball and sharing, I think we’re going to be dangerous.”
Max McCarthy ’23, defense, St. Anthony’s / Long Island Express / Harvard
Cole Aasheim was expected to be the Friars’ top defenseman this year, but the lefty North Carolina commit tore his ACL and will miss the season. It’s a very talented group across the board, but it seems like McCarthy is the top guy for St. Anthony’s. McCarthy, who will graduate this spring and do a PG year before heading to Harvard as a ’23, saw a lot of Express teammate and Chaminade sniper Charles Balsamo. The two had some excellent battles throughout. The 6-1, 180-pound righty moved his feet well throughout and rarely overcommitted. He was disciplined throughout and helped the Friars make Chaminade earn every 6v6 goal.
After one, St. Anthony’s leads, 5-3. @team91lacrosse ‘23 Jack Ponzio (@navymlax) has two goals, including this one down the alley, and an assist. 91’s Mike Leo (@CuseMLAX) with two goals, too. pic.twitter.com/dGq93QNbhR
— NLF (@natlaxfed) April 13, 2022
Jack Ponzio ’23, midfield, St. Anthony’s / Team 91 Long Island / Navy
There’s a noticeable difference with Ponzio this year. Physically, he looks to really have committed to improving his body, and the results were noticeable when watching him run. He also looks much more confident in his role. A lifelong attackman, he’s now running midfield for the Friars for the second straight year, and he’s much more comfortable with it.
“I think me being versatile and playing up top really helps us,” Ponzio said. “I can get to my right, I can get to my left, and especially playing two-man with Leo and Duffy, they just automatically bring a double to whoever’s going. Just open on the back side and swing it. We dominated our matchups today. I think anybody can beat their guy, all six guys on the field, and just the way we move the ball, too. (Offensive coordinator) Coach (Doug) Schreiber‘s got a great gameplan, and if we keep playing like that, no one can stop us.”
The Navy commit finished with a hat trick and four assists, including an eye-popping high-to-high righty rip on the run.
“I didn’t know I had that in me, honestly,” Ponzio said with a smile.
Ponzio showed of his playmaking ability throughout, and his best assist came when he dodged up top, spied a cutting Pat Carragher (LI Express / Penn State) and slipped it to the righty midfield sniper for a goal.
— NLF (@natlaxfed) April 13, 2022
Will Snyder ’22, goalie, St. Anthony’s / Long Island Express / Fairfield
Snyder was outstanding in his final club summer with the Express, and he’s continued his strong play this spring. He usually splits games with Kevin Barrett (Team 91 LI / Boston University), but with the latter injured, Snyder went the distance against the Flyers. The future Stag made 15 saves, and he continues to surprise at how proficient he is at taking away low shots for a 6-5 stopper. Snyder was very confident throughout and it took some really good shots to beat him.
The defense remains largely intact from a year ago, and that continuity also plays a major role in helping Snyder settle in in the cage.
“It helps a lot because sometimes, we don’t even have to talk to know where to go. We can just look at each other and send a guy,” Snyder said. “I’ve been playing with some of these guys since sixth grade, so the chemistry I have with them is really great. It’s just really fun playing with them.”
St. Anthony’s 19, Chaminade 10
St. Anthony’s 5 5 5 4 — 19
Chaminade 3 2 4 1 — 10
St. Anthony’s (7-0)
Michael Leo ’22 (Team 91 LI / Syracuse) 4 goals, 1 assist
Jack Ponzio ’23 (Team 91 LI / Navy) 3 goals, 4 assists
Pat Carragher ’23 (LI Express / Penn State) 3 goals
Owen Duffy ’23 (NLF No. 3 ’23 / Team 91 LI / North Carolina) 2 goals, 3 assists
Jackson Greene ’23 (NLF No. 72 ’23 / Team 91 LI / Harvard) 2 goals, 1 assist
Jack Speidell ’23 (NLF No. 40 ’23 / Team 91 LI / Harvard) 1 goal
Max McCarthy ’23 (LI Express / Harvard) 1 goal
Jordan Naso ’22 (Holy Cross) 1 goal, 8-for-12 faceoffs
Michael Finnerty ’23 (LI Express / UMass) 1 goal
Joe Calandrino ’23 (LI Express / Maryland) 1 goal
Michael Moon ’24 (Team 91 LI) 5-for-14 faceoffs
Owen McIntee ’23 2-for-4 faceoffs
Will Snyder ’22 (LI Express / Fairfield) 15 saves
Christian Alacqua ’22 (LI Express / Notre Dame) 3 goals
Charles Balsamo ’22 (NLF No. 7 ’22 / LI Express / Duke) 2 goals
Gary Correa ’23 (LI Express) 2 goals
Justin McMahon ’22 (LI Express / Penn) 1 goal, 1 assist
Jack Flaherty ’22 (Team 91 LI / Navy) 1 goal, 1 assist
Ryan Landolphi ’23 (Navy) 1 goal
Noah Filippelli ’22 (LI Express) 8-for-18 faceoffs
Quinn Ball ’25 (LI Express) 7-for-12 faceoffs
Colm Flynn ’22 (LI Express) 8 saves, 14 goals allowed
PJ Verdi ’23 (LI Express / Johns Hopkins) 2 saves, 5 goals allowed