By Brian Deakyne
TOMS RIVER –For four years, Rumson-Fair Haven’s Jack Curran and Christian Brothers Academy’s Donny Finn have been part of one of the most exciting lacrosse rivalries in the Shore Conference.
On Saturday night, they, along with several teammates and other local players, were able to play together in the Shore Conference Lacrosse Coaches Association senior all-star game.
CBA’s Finn led the way for Monmouth County, scoring three times and dishing out two assists in their losing effort to Ocean County, 16-10, at Toms River High School South.
“It’s good to change it up. In the season, I hate playing against them. They’re competition,” Finn said. “Out here, it’s good to play with them and see how we work together. I love playing with Jack Curran, me and him seem to fit well. I think it’s just fun at the end of the year to play with all the players that you’ve been playing against the whole season.”
Monmouth County, who was an undefeated 6-0 in all-star games heading into Saturday night, jumped out to a quick lead, although they couldn’t sustain it.
Finn connected with Colts Neck’s Kevin Loveland to put Monmouth up 2-1 in the first quarter, and 61 seconds later, Finn hit Curran on a feed pass that put Monmouth up, 3-1.
Finn added his first goal of the night later in the first quarter, taking the ground ball off a scramble and dodging to the front of the crease to score.
Rumson-Fair Haven’s Dan Babiak added a goal in the first quarter as well, dodging from the top of the box and ripping the shot past Jackson Liberty’s Max Leidenhiemer, giving Monmouth County their biggest lead at 6-2.
That lead would never grow, however, and Ocean County was able to storm back, using four straight goals late in the second quarter to take a 10-6 lead into halftime.
Finn scored Monmouth County’s lone goal of the second quarter, dodging in tight on crease, and slipping the ball into the net for his second goal of the night.
Finn finished off his night in the fourth quarter with a goal, beating Brick Memorials’ Drew Lamela — who was named co-MVP- short-side, and later assisting on teammate Stephen Deiner’s goal.
Curran posted a goal and an assist in the fourth quarter, ending his three-point night as his final high school game under Reid Jackson came to an end.
“You’re used to playing with the same guys each and everyday, and the chemistry isn’t there. As you play in this game, you start to build it. Unfortunately for us, our chemistry didn’t start hitting until the end there,” Curran said.
Curran, who will be continuing his lacrosse career at division-one Villanova next spring, said it was a special feeling to end his high school career on a field with other All-Americans and players of high caliber.
“It’s a special feeling and I know all these guys feel the same way,” he said. “It’s an accomplishment and an honor to represent your school in a game that competes with the best players.”
For Finn, playing in an all-star game is a better ending to a season than recent memory.
“It’s better than ending it by losing to Jackson Memorial in the semi-final [of the Shore Conference Tournament],” Finn said. “It’s a good note to end it on, it’s fun, not so serious. We were just having fun and it will be good to remember this for a long time.”
Rumson-Fair Haven, which won their second consecutive Shore Conference Tournament and reached the Group I semi-final in May, led Monmouth County by being represented by five players.
“I think it says a lot about our program. Each and every year it’s got a winning team and a bunch of guys that are capable of making it to events like these, so I think it speaks volumes to the program,” Curran said.
Curran, Finn, and Rumson goalie Artie Tildesley were all named All-Americans at halftime, and Rumson-Fair Haven coach — who represented Monmouth County as the head coach — Reid Jackson was named Shore Conference coach of the year.