MEDFORD – Long before Chris Lyons enrolled at Shawnee High School he was aware of the Renegades’ high-level boys lacrosse rivalry against St. Augustine Prep.
Now a sophomore, Lyons recalled coming to the games as a spectator since he was in sixth grade, dreaming of the day when he would be able to take the field himself.
On Tuesday, Lyons made his first on-field experience in the battle between two of South Jersey’s traditionally most highly regarded teams a rousing success.
He scored three goals and keeper Dan Falzone recorded 14 saves and the Renegades took this year’s game with a 9-1 rout in an non-league game.
“It was an amazing game,” said Lyons. “It was a nerve-wracking day all day today. I was watching films in my classes – obviously when I wasn’t doing work -- and I was psyching myself up all day. It turned out better than I could ever think of.”
That Lyons stepped to the forefront came as a bit of surprise to his coach, Tim Gushue. But that was only because the coach said he didn’t think Lyons was going to be physically well enough to play.
He had been stricken the past couple of days fighting allergies that led to a stuffed nose and throat.
“I sent him home yesterday because he looked all washed out,” Gushue said. “He’s going to probably sleep well again tonight.”
From a playing standpoint, however, Gushue has come to expect a lot of Lyons.
“He’s pretty spectacular,” the coach said “I think he made a great statement today. He’s definitely one of the better players in South Jersey.”
Gushue had similar works of praise for his goalie. Falzone stopped the first 14 shots he faced before David Burr scored the Hermits lone goal with 3.9 seconds to play.
“Danny was nothing short of spectacular,” Gushue said. “He made a couple of great saves there, and his teammates did a good job of clearing the ball – which was pretty outstanding.”
For his part, Falzone said he was disappointed about having the shutout slip away so later in the game, but he was more than happy to take the win.
“I don’t care if we win by 20 or by one, a win’s a win,” he said. “It would have been nice (locking down the shutout), but it didn’t matter too much.”
In the meantime, Falzone credited his defensive teammates for helping him keep the Hermits off the board. Citing players like John Diaz and Patrick O’Hanlon for their efforts, Falzone said the defense shut things down.
“Especially the first half they played lights out,” he said. “I feel like the other team was not expecting that. For us to play with that kind of aggressiveness right off the bat . . . they just gave me everything I should have had.”
Despite the lopsided nature of the score, things really didn’t get out of hand until the fourth quarter when Shawnee put five goals on the board.
The Renegades set the tone in the first few minutes when a goal by Diaz gave them a 1-0 lead before Lyons added his first goal to push the score to 2-0 by the half.
Even thought the Hermits were marginally still in the game into the third quarter, Gushue felt his players had long since established their dominance.
“I just felt this was one of those games where we cleaned up our game,” he said. “We’ve been, at times, our own worst enemy. I thought today we did good things.
“When we had the ball on offense we possessed the ball. We moved the ball around a little bit. We got good looks and defensively we were outstanding.”
Goals by Bailey Pringle, the first of his two, and Lyons put the Renegades up 4-0 going into the fourth quarter. After that, the Hermits tried to push up, taking away from the defense, hoping to find a way to solve Falcone.
But the only result of that strategy was Shawnee was allowed to keep scoring and turn the game into a rout.
St. Augustine 0 0 0 1 -1
Shawnee 1 1 2 5 -9
Sh: Chris Lyons 3, Bailey Pringle 2, John Dias, Grant Pargas, Gavin Willson, Blake Brinster.
SA: David Burr