By Jim Hintelmann
RED BANK – When Red Bank Catholic’s girls lacrosse team dropped a 15-3 decision to state power Summit in the NJSIAA Group II title game several weeks ago, it not only ended RBC’s season, but also brought to a close the scholastic career of one of the school’s greatest all-around athletes, Duke University-bound Grace Fallon.
Fallon excelled in lacrosse, basketball and soccer. She was one of those rare athletes who played on Shore Conference championship teams in three sports in three different years.
As a freshman, she played on RBC’s championship soccer team, during her sophomore year she played for the championship lacrosse team and on the winning basketball team as a junior.
This year, Fallon helped the lacrosse team to a 21-3 record including its fourth straight Shore Conference B North championship and the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A title. The 21 wins were a school record.
“It was a successful season with the players we had,” said Fallon, who led the Shore in scoring with 163 points on 72 goals and 91 assists. “We gained most experience as the season went along and played to the best of our ability.”
The lone losses were to Rumson, twice, and Summit, with North Jersey lacrosse once again proving too much to handle with Rumson losing to Summit in the states.
“North Jersey, Long Island and Maryland are hotbeds for lacrosse,” Fallon said. “They have had established feeder programs years longer then we have. The Shore seems to be more focused on basketball but I think that lacrosse is improving down here and getting more popular.”
RBC made a statement early this season when it routed Ocean Township, 21-1.
“As a team, it was the best game we played all season,” said Fallon, who became the first lacrosse player in school history to score her 200th career goal and 200th assist.
Fallon had help from teammates Amanda Casten and Maeve Cowley, who also had great seasons with 131 and 123 points respectively.
“It’s going to be sad not playing with them any longer,” said Fallon, who began playing lacrosse when she was in the fifth grade.
“My older sister, Annie, played lacrosse and I decided to pick up a stick and follow in her footsteps,” she said. “That is a credit to her because I got hooked on the sport.”
Fallon was coming off a solid season in basketball where she averaged about 9 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game as she helped a relatively inexperienced team to a 19-8 record.
RBC, though, played in probably the state’s strongest conference (A Division Central) with state powers Rumson-Fair Haven Regional, St. John Vianney and Manasquan all in the same division.
“They were all great teams,” Fallon said. “We lost some very good seniors from our championship team (29-2) of the year before. We lost a lot of scoring. We could stop a lot of teams defensively but had a little trouble scoring on the offensive end.”
Despite not having the talent of some of its great teams of 2000 and 2001, RBC swept the Shore Conference and NJSIAA Non-Public A girls championships in Fallon’s junior season.
“We didn’t expect to be that good,” she said, “but we had good chemistry and every player knew her role. The team was very unselfish and that was what made it successful.
“We beat Point Boro in the Shore Conference finals. That game was a lot of fun because we played at Monmouth University’s Mac Center and the crowd was great. They also had a great player in Kelly Hughes.”
The most memorable game in the regular season was a 46-44 win over SJV when Fallon won it with a tip-in at the buzzer.
However, it was not in the usual way since it came on a set play which began with RBC taking the ball out of bounds under its own basket with only four-tenths of a second left.
“We could have just held the ball and take our chances in overtime,” Fallon said, “but our coach, Joe Montano, wanted to set something up and you have to give him credit for that.
“I received a perfect pass from Mary Kate Caverly on that play. I just made a volleyball tap and the ball went in.”
Following the win over Point Boro, RBC defeated SJV and Gloucester Catholic in the Non Public A sectionals and then defeated Immaculate Heart Academy to win the overall title.
“They had a real good team and a player that was going to play at Villanova,” Fallon said,” but the coaches had us prepared again and we knew what to expect.”
Fallon helped RBC win over Ocean City in the first round of the Tournament of Champions, but the Caseys were eliminated by Rancocas Valley, 63-62, in the semifinals.
“We trailed by double-digits at halftime,” Fallon recalled, “but we had a great third-quarter where we made a lot of 3s and went up by 10, but I think that might have worn us down a little bit.”
As a sophomore, Fallon played a key role in RBC’s girls lacrosse win over Manasquan in the Shore Conference title game. It was RBC’s first SC girls lacrosse championship.
“That was our best team,” she said. “Manasquan had upset Rumson in the semifinals, but we beat Manasquan in overtime. Our goalie played a phenomenal game and made a big stop in the overtime.
“We beat Allentown to win the sectional title,” Fallon said, “but we lost to Chatham in the semifinals.”
After winning the Shore Conference title in soccer during her freshman year, RBC shared the NJSIAA Group II title with Chatham. Fallon played soccer two more years before giving it up this season.
“It was a difficult decision but I had to concentrate on academics,” she said.
Fallon narrowed her college choices down to Duke, Loyola of Baltimore, Southern California and Notre Dame before finally settling on Duke.
“I visited there and loved the campus,” she said. “It has great academics and girls lacrosse programs.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to go and play for any other high school anywhere else than at RBC,” Fallon said. “I played with a lot of great people, made a lot of friends and played for some awesome coaches.”