Georgian Court’s History-Making Season

The Georgian Court University women and men's lacrosse teams celebrate their championships. (Photo courtesy Georgian Court University)

LAKEWOOD – The Georgian Court University women’s lacrosse team has made history.

The Lions became the first team in history to win the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament title four times.

The top-seeded Lions captured their latest title with a 22-12 win over third-ranked Chestnut Hill College at the GCU Track and Field Complex in front of 286 fans in Lakewood.

Georgian Court, which closed its schedule with nine straight wins, also won the crown in 2010, 2011 and last season. The CACC debuted the sport in 2009.

This year’s team was 13-6 overall, including 11-0 against CACC opponents. The Lions are 22-0 against CACC foes over the last two years. The Griffins closed their season at 12-7.

Junior attack Samantha Fernandez, a former Toms River High School South player, led the Lions with eight goals in the final and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Freshman midfielder Madison Heck (Donovan Catholic) added 16 draw controls.

Junior goalie Amber Neumann (Brick Memorial) contributed 10 saves to push her record to 13-6.

Taylor Bauerband, a Toms River North graduate, scored 40 goals for Georgian Court University. (Photo courtesy of Georgian Court University)

Fernandez made the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Association Atlantic Region second team. She put home 65 goals and added 17 assists for a GCU-best 82 points. She was third in the CACC in goals. She also was named to the All-CACC first team for the second straight year.

GCU senior midfielder Taylor Bauerband (Toms River North) and Neumann made the All-CACC first team after starring during the regular season. Heck was a second-team selection.

Bauerband scored 40 goals and added three assists in 14 games. She scored a season-high six goals on two separate occasions. She scored more than 100 career goals. She added 35 ground balls and 50 draws this year.

Neumann was 9-0 in CACC play. She was second in the CACC with an 11.96 goals against average and third overall with a .444 save percentage. She collected 135 saves on the year.

Heck put home 14 goals and added nine assists in 16 games (15 starts). She added 40 ground balls and 44 draw controls

Ryder Verdoni, who competed for the Howell Rebels, surveys the scene for Georgian Court University. (Photo courtesy of Georgian Court University)

Other local players on the team were sophomore midfielder Lauren Onnembo (Point Pleasant Boro), freshman attack Emily Zuccarelli (Freehold Township), freshman attack Caroline Keller (a Freehold resident who played for Colts Neck), freshman attack Morgan Dinse (Brick Memorial) and senior defender Tiffani Kipila (Jackson Memorial).

Onnembo, who played in 14 games and started eight, scored eight goals and added 14 ground balls, three draw controls and five caused turnovers. Zuccarelli finished with three goals, five ground balls and one caused turnovers in five games (one start).

Keller wound up with four goals, nine ground balls and five caused turnovers in 11 games as a reserve. Dinse finished with one goal in seven games off the bench. Kipila, who appeared in and started 18 games, netted two goals and added one assist, 14 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers.

Madison Heck, who hails from Donovan Catholic, hustles for Georgian Court University. (Photo courtesy of Georgian Court University)

Bauerband and Neumann were the local athletes who earned berths on the 20188 CACC Women’s Lacrosse All-Academic Team.

Bauerband, who made the team for the third time, topped the CACC Tournament champions with a 3.88 grade point average as a business administration major. Neumann, the owner of a 3.80 grade point average as a mathematics/education major, made the team for the second time.

GCU’s Amy Rizzo, a graduate of Jackson Memorial High School was named the CACC’s 2018 Women’s Lacrosse Coach of the Year. The Lions topped the CACC in scoring at 14.88 goals per game and paced the league on defense, allowing 11.14 goals per outing. They won the CACC regular season title at 9-0.

Lions on top: The top-seeded host Lions captured the inaugural CACC Tournament, downing Chestnut Hill 9-7 in the championship game.

The Lions ended their season with a seven-game winning streak – all against CACC teams. The Lions were 11-6.

GCU senior midfielder Jeffrey Galatola (Jackson Memorial) was the local player named to the All-CACC first team.

He was named a United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Division II Scholar All-American.

Georgian Court’s Samantha Reilly, who played for Toms River North, was one of the top players in NCAA Division II. (Photo courtesy of Georgian Court University)

The Lions’ Co-Most Valuable Player, the former Jaguar was third in the CACC with 38 goals and 54 total points in 17 games. He added 42 ground balls.

Selected to the 77th annual USILA/Nike North-South Senior All-Star Game in Providence, R.I. Galatola put up a 3.33 grade point average as a business administration/sports marketing major.

Sophomore teammate Christopher Mulholland, a goalie from Jackson Liberty, and junior midfielder Ryder Verdoni, who hails from Howell Township, made the first-ever CACC Men’s Lacrosse All-Academic Team.

Mulholland, a nursing major, put up a 3.66 grade point average. A biology major, Verdoni owned a 3.55 grade point average.

Mulholland appeared in six games and started one, allowing 12 goals. He posted an 8.34 goals against average, a 63.6 saves percentage, 21 saves and a 1-0 record. He played 86:19.

Verdoni played in 15 games and started three. He scored 12 goals and added eight assists for 20 total points. He added 18 ground balls.

Jeffrey Galatola, a former Jackson Memorial player, attempts a shot on goal for Georgian Court University. (Photo courtesy Georgian Court University)

GCU’s Mickey Hover was named the CACC’s initial Coach of the Year.

He led the Lions to a 5-0 CACC record for the regular season title in his third season at the helm.

Reilly rules: Samantha Reilly, a junior catcher from Toms River North, starred on the Lions’ women’s softball team.

The All-American was named an NCAA Division II Statistical Champion after leading the nation in three offensive categories.

She was first in slugging percentage (1.169), on-base percentage (.641) and home runs per game (0.47). Her team record 25 homers were second overall.

GCU’s Female Athlete of the Year will be honored with plaques from the NCAA. They will be presented during a pre-game ceremony at a to be determined GCU athletic contest this fall.

Reilly was second nationally in walks (47) and third in the country with 158 total bases and a .515 batting average.

A Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II Softball National Player of the Year Top-10 finalist, Reilly also was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s Division II and Fastpitch News NCAA Division II All-America first teams. She was named to the Division II Conference Commissioner Association (CCA) All-America second team.

The former Mariner also was named the Division II CCA East Region Player of the Year and the CACC Player of the Year.

Reilly led the Lions in runs batted in (65), total bases, doubles (14) and walks. She was 70-for-137 at the plate. She appeared in and started 53 games. She fielded .993, making 127 putouts, dishing out 17 assists and registering one error.

Reilly paced the Lions to a 30-23 overall record. They went 18-8 for third place in the CACC.

Sophomore teammate Samantha Salomon (Toms River North) batted .267, appearing in and starting 52 games.

The second baseman stroked 39 hits in 146 at-bats. Among her hits were seven homers, two triples and eight doubles. She drove in 33 runs and scored 47. She stole eight bases in nine attempts, put up a .493 slugging percentage and a .382 on-base percentage.

Leading the field: Former Howell Township athlete Stephanie Bock was named the CACC Women’s Field Athlete of the Year for the second straight season after starring for the Lions.

GCU sophomore Alaa Al-Shrouf, another ex-Howell athlete, was honored as the CACC Men’s Field Athlete of the Year.

Howell graduate Alaa Al-Shrouf starred for Georgian Court University. (Photo courtesy Georgian Court University)

GCC mentor Michael Murawski was named the BSN Sports CACC Women’s Track & Field Coach of the Year for the fourth straight season.

Bock captured her latest honor after winning the CACC crown in the shot put at 12.27 meters and placing second in the discus (36.59 meters) and the hammer throw (42.59 meters).

Al-Shrouf won the CACC title in the shot put at 14.03 meters and was second in the discus at 40.95 meters.

Murawski led his club to its fifth straight CACC outdoor team championship. His men’s team, seeking its fourth straight crown, fell four points short to Bloomfield College to finish in second place.

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Chris Christopher covers sports for Micromedia Publications Inc. with knowledge, pride and passion. His beats are the high school, college, professional, youth and recreational scenes. A three-time New Jersey Press Association award winner for sports writing, Christopher was inducted into the Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame in 2015 for his work in the media. The Lakewood resident enjoys taking walks in Ocean County Park and on the boardwalks in Ocean and Monmouth counties and rooting for the New York Mets.