VIDEO, PHOTOS: Maplewood Lacrosse Team 2020 Wins NJ AA State Championship

by The Village Green
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In the third-straight closely contested playoff game in four days, Maplewood Lacrosse Club Team 2020 pulled off a 12-9 victory against Tewksbury on Friday, June 3, to claim the NJ AA State Championship in Towaco, NJ.

The game was an emotional roller coaster for players and fans alike, as Maplewood jumped out to a fast, early 4-0 lead, then found themselves down 7-5 heading into the fourth quarter.

A dramatic 7-goal run in the final quarter put #5 seed Maplewood ahead, but the team needed to fend off a late two-goal surge by #2 seed Tewksbury to take the win — and the championship (see the final seconds and celebration above).

Earlier in the week, Maplewood Team 2020 fought its way into the final with a victory over #4 seed Caldwell (6-5) on Tuesday, May 31, followed by a nail-biting 9-7 win over the #1 seed Kinnelon on Wednesday, June 1.

MLC alums Jules Heningburg, Dylan Heningburg, Gus Heningburg, Nate Hill and Mike Terry pitched in over the last few weeks of the season, running drills, coaching practices and cheering the team on at games. In an email to the team, Head Coach Joe Gillette thanked the alumni, saying that they “infused their knowledge and passion for the game at just the right time to permit our boys to go on this run.”

Gillette thanked Assistant Coaches Steve O’Mara, Will Simmons, John Weeda and Art Hoffmann for their insights, friendship and hard work over the years — and for potentially saving him from a heart attack late in the championship game.

Gillette also cited team parents Mike Charvala and Howie Teitelbaum “without whose organization and behind the scenes efforts, none of this ever happens.”

In turn, Teitelbaum had warm words for Gillette: “Joe has not only been a great coach but a great motivator and teacher. He has taken the kids from boys to young men and has not only taught them lacrosse but how to carry themselves as men in the future. Something most coaches can’t do at this level. Having Joe and his coaching staff with this team for the past several years has been so incredibly valuable.”

After all the coaching and parenting, it came down to the players.

Maplewood Lacrosse Team 2020 is made of up 8th graders who live in South Orange and Maplewood. Many of the boys have played together on Maplewood Lacrosse since second and third grade and now head off to various area high schools and teams.

Gillette said that the boys’ success was all due teamwork: “Everyone was into it, willing to play whatever role was in front of them with passion, everyone was encouraged, everyone was respectful of each other and as a result, lifelong bonds were formed.”

“The boys learned what is possible when a band of brothers comes together and believes in each other and works hard at something,” wrote Gillette. “But know that this was special. You may not realize how special for a few years but … with the benefit of time, you will realize just how special this team and this season were and how special all of your teammates are.”

The Maplewood Lacrosse Team 2020 Roster:

Attack – Andrew Williams, Samson Wolpov, Kalman Kraham, Colin O’Mara and Kiran Sharma

Midfield – Daniel Teitelbaum, Ethan Mann, Mack Turi, Declan Weeda, Kieran Reynolds, Ashri Settles, Chris Woods-Jones, Hudson Grumieux

Long Stick Midfield – Ben Peacock and Phelan Thatcher-Keane

Defense – JJ Gillette, William Hoffman, Jesse Whelan-Small and Kyle Gonyea

Goalie – Will Charvala

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