It’d be hard to argue there hasn’t been a growing rivalry between West Deptford and Gloucester Catholic teams over the past several years, but it’s a little different with boys’ lacrosse.
For Eagles senior Nick Baud and Rams junior Nick Lanciano, it’s not just a team rivalry—it’s a battle for who’s best on the block.
“We’ve been friends since birth,” Lanciano said. “I’ve been playing with him my whole life, then all of a sudden, playing against him, it’s kind of weird.”
The longtime friends and neighbors may be warriors on the field—and in a physical, grind-it-out game under the lights Thursday night, there was plenty of back-and-forth between them—but as soon as they cross the sideline afterward, it’s back to being the friends who’ve lived down the street from each other forever.
“We’re going after each other as hard as we can—we’re not going to hold back, but we’re not going to play cheap,” Baud said. “It’s a good little battle we have out there.”
Both players said the intensity ramps up when they face each other, and that was reflected across both squads in a tight, 7-5 win for West Deptford that saw the two teams hammer at each other for every goal.
And the rivalry goes beyond just Baud and Lanciano, as West Deptford coach Mike Yarusso pointed out. Many of the players grew up playing either with or against one another in youth leagues before heading to high school, and now play for bragging rights the rest of the season.
“They don’t see each other but a couple times a year,” Yarusso said. “It becomes a little more than just the game.”
And it’s not just the players, either. West Deptford grads Eric Gendron and Mike Nahas are the offensive and defensive coordinators for Gloucester Catholic this year, intertwining the programs in another way.
“They’ve done a real nice job helping (Gloucester Catholic) grow,” Yarusso said. “They know our system pretty well.”
The Rams certainly played like it, coming back from a 4-0 deficit early to tie the game and put all the pressure on West Deptford under the lights at the football stadium.
Neither team was able to force a big momentum shift, due at least in part to a slew of penalties on both sides, and the game became a methodical chess match more than the run-and-gun when the two met earlier this season.
Zach Kaestner and Mike Reardon drove the offense for West Deptford, scoring three goals each, while Brendan Gill was a brick wall in the net, turning away 30 Gloucester Catholic shots through the course of the game.
“They gave us all we could handle today,” Yarusso said “They go out there and they’re playing with every piece of emotion they have.”