Season in Review: West Essex Boys Lacrosse
After fast start, Knights fall short of reaching Group 1 championship game.
Winners of 12 of its first 13 games of the season, the West Essex boys lacrosse team's goal of reaching the NJSIAA Public Group 1 state championship game certainly seemed within reach.
So did winning the Essex County Tournament championship.
But those accomplishments slipped through the Knights' grasp as they lost four of their final six games, including three straight defeats heading into the state tournament.
"We did pretty much what we expected," West Essex coach Tim Glenn said. "We thought we could have been a Group 1 finalist and almost did that."
Instead, West Essex lost in overtime for the third straight time to Madison in the semifinals after stunning second-seeded Mahwah in the quarterfinals and upending rival Caldwell High in the first round.
"Overall, I'd say we're relatively happy, but not ecstatic about our season," Glenn said.
West Essex reeled off a 12-1 record through its first 13 games, but lost three straight, including to Seton Hall in the Essex County Tournament semifinals and to Madison in triple overtime to close the regular season before regrouping to reach the Group 1 semifinals.
The Knights, who finished 14-5, were led by senior defenseman John LoCascio and senior midfielder Tom Black.
LoCascio was named first team all-conference and all-Group 1 and was the team's lone All-American after anchoring the Knights' defense, while Black netted 39 goals and had 36 assists to also earn first team all-conference and all-Group 1 recognition.
"We did a lot of running, lifting and stick-work together," LoCascio said. "All of us on the team are great friends, so it was easy to work together."
That team chemistry and the knowledge of the fierce competition that loomed in the postseason helped to drive Black.
"We worked very hard in the preseason and all year because we knew it was going to be hard in the postseason due to our very competitive Group," Black said.
Junior Joe Fusco scored a team-best 40 goals and received first team all-conference recognition and was a Group 1 honorable mention selection. Senior attackman Tom Martin was named second team all-conference, while junior goalie Mike Wiatrak was named all-conference honorable mention.
Seven seniors will graduate this year with Eddie Murphy and Brandon Rossi both attending Centenary College in the fall, while Matt Freda will head to Wesley, Pete Doelp will attend Susquehanna College and Martin will go to Vermont.
While Black will be a member of the Bucknell men's lacrosse team, LoCascio is preparing to play for Villanova.
"Right now I am trying to get in the best possible shape I can be to increase my chances of playing at the next level," LoCascio said.