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Manasquan, St. Rose to face off — and give back — this Saturday

February 7, 2013

MANASQUAN — Inspired by the Coaches vs. Cancer movement, which originated in the college ranks but has since also tricked down to the high school level, the Manasquan girls basketball program decided to make Saturday afternoon’s highly anticipated matchup with St. Rose about more than just basketball.

The Coaches vs. Cancer program encourages coaches, their teams, and local community members to join in the fight against cancer by participating in awareness efforts, advocacy programs and fundraising activities.

The Warriors and Purple Roses will be doing exactly that when the two teams meet at 2 p.m. at Manasquan High School.

“With the St. Rose game being a more high-profile game and with a lot of local people attending, I thought this would be a good game to do this for Coaches vs. Cancer,” Manasquan head coach Lisa Kukoda said on Monday night. “It’s a great cause.”


Along with the teams wearing colors to support the cause — the Warriors will be wearing pink shoe laces, for instance — there will be fundraising activities going on throughout the game to raise money, including a bake sale near the main entrance of the gym.

All proceeds will then go directly to the American Cancer Society.

“We are looking at a bunch of ways to use the game to support this good cause,” Kukoda said.

The first-year coach acknowledged the importance of athletic teams giving back to the community that supports them. Just prior to the season, the Warriors also donated their time helping out with the Hurricane Sandy relief effort.

“It is great to have the support of the community,” Kukoda said. “It is great to be able to use that as a means for a good cause. We’re happy to be giving back.”

Kukoda noted the owner of The Spring Lake Manor, John Nagle, as the sponsor for this year’s Coaches vs. Cancer event.

“He is making a donation and will be helping out with some of the things we will be doing during the game,” she said.

A full-game story on the matchup between local rivals Manasquan and St. Rose will be available in the Feb. 14 edition of The Coast Star.

Follow me on twitter: @samcostantino


Squan’s Shea Cowley commits to Duquesne

February 1, 2013

MANASQUAN — There were a  handful of colleges that appealed to Manasquan’s Shea Cowley as she searched for the right place to continue her lacrosse career.

None of them, however, gave the junior the same warm feelings she felt when  stepping on the campus of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa.

It is for that very reason Cowley recently gave a verbal commitment to play for the Dukes following her graduation from Manasquan.

For Cowley, Duquesne was the perfect place to continue her lacrosse career. What stood out most, she said, was the university’s unique campus and also the camaraderie she saw between current members of the Dukes’ roster.

“I really loved Duquesne, it is such a different campus,” Cowley said on Monday.  “It is in the middle of the city, but when you are on campus you wouldn’t even know it.

“I also loved all the girls on the team,” she continued.  “You could tell they were really there for each other and really into [the game].  They all seemed so close.”

 Though she is relieved the recruiting process is over, Cowley was honored to be sought out for her playing services by several programs, such as Sienna College in Loudonville, N.Y., The University of Vermont, in Burlington, Vt., and  Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pa., to name a few.

Cowley’s quick climb to Division I athlete is impressive. She did not begin playing lacrosse until eighth grade and has only been with her club team, T3 Lacrosse, since just prior to her sophomore season.

“It is great. When I started playing lacrosse I really loved it,” said Cowley, who also plays soccer for the Warriors. “I am really honored and really grateful to be playing at the next level.”

Cowley is excited for the next chapter of her life at Duquesne, but is also looking forward to her final two years at Manasquan High School.

She hopes to win championships with the Warriors, while improving her all around game in order to be ready to join the Dukes in the competitive Atlantic 10 Conference.

“I am going to work hard to get ready for the next level,” she said.

Follow me on twitter: @samcostantino


Squan’s Amanda Hagaman commits to play at UMBC

January 26, 2013

Warriors’ captain will continue her basketball career with the Retrievers

MANASQUAN — Manasquan senior captain Amanda Hagaman will be continuing her basketball career at the Division I level following graduation from high school in June.

On Saturday, the talented, 6-foot-3 Hagaman gave a verbal commitment to play for Head Coach Phil Stern and the Retrievers Women’s Basketball program at University of Maryland Baltimore County [UMBC] in Baltimore, MD.

The news was confirmed by Manasquan Head Coach Lisa Kukoda later that evening.

“I liked everything about UMBC,” said Hagaman on Tuesday night. “I liked the coach [Stern] and the basketball program I knew it was where I wanted to go.”

Hagaman, one of only two returning starters to the Warriors’ lineup from last year’s state championship team, has been a cornerstone veteran presence for the first-year coach, Kukoda.

Showing solid ability on both ends of the floor, Hagaman is averaging just over nine points and eight rebounds per game as once thought-to-be rebuilding Manasquan has surprised the Shore Conference by opening up 8-6.

“She has been a great leader and she has done the things we’ve needed her to do,” Kukoda said of Hagaman. “She has adjusted well and you can see her confidence out there.”

Hagaman knew with a young team she would have excel in the leadership role in order to help her inexperienced teammates adjust to the varsity level. The senior admitted to becoming more vocal this year, opposed to last.

“I knew I had to step it up,” Hagaman said.

With UMBC now locked in to her future, Hagaman is looking forward to finishing her high school career at Manasquan strong. She hopes to help Kukoda guide the Warriors deep into both the Shore Conference and state tournaments later this season.

“Now that the decision is off my shoulders I can focus more and put everything into this year,” Hagaman said. “I am looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Hagaman plans on studying the sciences at UMBC.

Follow me on twitter: @samcostantino

Red, purple & blue team up for the Cardinals at Catholic

January 11, 2013

Girls College Basketball Notebook

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Catholic University girls basketball team is currently in the midst of what is shaping up to be a special season for the program.

Kristen Kitrick [from left], a Wall graduate and student assistant at Catholic University, and Brigid Gannon, a Manasquan graduate, and Mary Hagaman, a St Rose graduate, both players, have all played key roles in the success of the Cardinals’ basketball program. Photo courtesy ROBIN GANNON

Kristen Kitrick [from left], a Wall graduate and student assistant at Catholic University, and Brigid Gannon, a Manasquan graduate, and Mary Hagaman, a St Rose graduate, both players, have all played key roles in the success of the Cardinals’ basketball program. Photo courtesy ROBIN GANNON

And, the Cardinals are doing it with a local Coast Star feel.

Catholic University, currently ranked 13th in the nation according to a recent USA Today DIII poll, has two players from the local area on its roster in senior Mary Hagaman, a Belmar resident who played for St. Rose, and sophomore Brigid Gannon, a former Manasquan High School hooper from Spring Lake Heights.

Along with Hagaman’s purple and gold roots and Gannon’s blue and gray ones, the Cardinals also have Wall High School’s crimson red mixed into their success, with Kristen Kitrick, a former player for both the Crimson Knights and Catholic University, currently involved with the program as a student assistant.

Hagaman, Kitrick and Gannon have all played an instrumental role in turning Catholic University into one of the elite Division III teams in the country under head coach Matt Donohue.

Kitrick, who played for Donohue her first two years before deciding to end her playing career to study abroad in Rome, Italy, last year, has enjoyed seeing the progress of the Cardinals program during her tenure at Catholic University. Kitrick said despite missing her time on the court for the Cardinals, she has really taken to her role as a student assistant, which includes heavy involvement at practice, working out injured players and taking statistical information during games.

“From my freshman year to now, there has been such a big turnaround,” said Kitrick, who also interns with the National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards. “Everyone has bought into the program and it is really nice to see. It says a lot about our team and coach [Donohue].”

It all started last year for the Cardinals, when the team had its best season in school history. In 2011-2012, Catholic University earned 22 wins, while also capturing both its first Landmark Conference championship and NCAA Division III Tournament berth.

This season, the Cardinals seem to be even stronger, with the group sitting at 13-0 as of Monday [Catholic University took on Juniata College out of Huntingdon, Pa., yesterday, in a late game].

According to Hagaman, Catholic University is winning due to strong team chemistry, whether a basketball is present or not.

“The team camaraderie we have, both on and off the court, has definitely played a huge role in our success,” Hagaman said.

That chemistry and bonding on a large scale within the Catholic University locker room trickles down even deeper when it comes to the three locals, according to Gannon.

Whether it is around the court or on a car ride back home to the Jersey Shore, Gannon said she, Hagaman and Kitrick are always growing closer by sharing good times together.

“I love Mary and Kit [Kristen] — they are hilarious,” Gannon said with a laugh. “We travel back and forth a lot from school together, so we are always bonding during our car rides.”

Though the Cardinals are enjoying their recent success, the team is still determined and focused on reaching new heights this winter.

Last season, the Cardinals were a quick out in the NCAA Tournament, falling to Muhlenberg College out of Allentown, Pa., in the first round.

Hopefully that will not happen not this season, Hagaman said.

“What I have experienced at Catholic University is everything I wanted [to get out of college] and more,” said the senior. “But, our goal is to win the conference again and make it further in the NCAA Tournament this year.”

Whatever comes of the Cardinals’ season in 2012-2013 that is yet to be determined, Gannon knows it is up to her and the rest of the underclassmen to carry on the winning tradition set in place by the program’s veterans, which include Hagaman and Kitrick.

“We want to carry the team forward in the coming years,” Gannon said. “We want to keep building off the success.”

Follow me on twitter: @samcostantino

It ain’t easy being green: Eagles or Jets; which struggling franchise will get back to glory first?

December 5, 2012

It has been a LONG time since either the New York Jets or Philadelphia Eagles were crowned champions of the NFL.

The Jets won Super Bowl 3 all the way back in January of 1969.  The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, but did earn 3 league championships back in 1948, 1949 and 1960 prior to the Super Bowl era.

As some of you may know, Len and I each root for one of these snake-bitten franchises – Len roots for the Eagles…I root for the Jets. [I am outnumbered at the Star News Group, though, because Ocean Star sports reporter Greg Domorski also roots for the Eagles].

Currently, both teams look absolutely lost.  So, it got us wondering: Which franchise will get back to the top of the mountain first?

It is hard to say, so we figured we would ask you:

follow me on twitter: @samcostantino – Follow Greg Domorski @gdomorski

Girls Lacrosse: Manasquan’s JoJo Reilly verbally commits to Rutgers

November 29, 2012

Manasquan junior JoJo Reilly recently committed to continue her lacrosse career at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

Reilly is a standout attacker for the Warriors who also competes for New Jersey’s elite T3 club team. Along with Rutgers, Reilly was being recruited by schools such as Duke, Villanova, University of Massachusetts [UMass]  and University of Connecticut [UConn] .

“When I went there and stepped on the field, I knew it would be the perfect place for me,” said Reilly of choosing Rutgers.

A full story on Reilly’s verbal commitment to the Scarlet Knights’ lacrosse program will be available in the Dec. 6 edition of The Coast Star.

Follow me on twitter for information and live scoring updates of Manasquan, Wall & St. Rose sports: @samcostantino

Girls soccer: Lady Roses capture sectional championship

November 20, 2012

The St. Rose girls soccer team captured the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association [NJSIAA] Non-Public South B sectional championship today by beating Mater Dei High School, 3-0.

Lauren Gates, Shannon Burns and Amy White all scored goals for the Purple Roses during the win.

A full-game story on the purple and gold’s victory will be available in the Nov. 29 edition of The Coast Star.

For live @coaststar score updates, follow me on twitter: @samcostantino