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South Jersey lacrosse notes

The Skyline Conference doesn't offer the Moorestown boys' lacrosse team many chances to flex its muscles against other South Jersey teams.

The Skyline Conference doesn't offer the Moorestown boys' lacrosse team many chances to flex its muscles against other South Jersey teams.

So when the opportunity arises, bragging rights are generally on the line.

This year, that extends beyond the players.

Ranked No. 2 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, the Quakers (7-3) are set to play No. 3 Haddonfield on Monday and No. 1 St. Augustine on May 17.

Moorestown, which hasn't lost a step after graduating 16 seniors from last year's Group 3 state-championship team, sees those games as ways to make a statement to their home area.

It's not far from the attitude of their coach, Baron Wallenhurst, particularly against the Bulldogs.

The Haddonfield game will be a reunion of sorts for Wallenhurst and first-year Haddonfield coach Damon Legato. Wallenhurst spent several years working under Legato when Legato coached the Quakers from 2000-05.

"That's going to be a big moment," Wallenhurst said. "I worked with Damon for a lot of years, so it's going to mean a lot to me to coach against him. Damon is a great coach; he's doing a great job at Haddonfield. And I'm looking forward to the game."

Wallenhurst was the freshman coach when Legato led the Quakers to South Jersey's first state boys' lacrosse championship in 2001. Wallenhurst took over the program after Legato left and went on to lead Moorestown to state titles in 2008 and 2011.

Legato and Wallenhurst are still the only South Jersey coaches with state titles. Of course, J.C. Valore, the Moorestown grad and St. Augustine head coach, has his team poised for a run at becoming the area's second state-championship program.

The Hermits' vaunted offense offers a formidable test to a Quakers defense that has looked dominant for most of this season. Moorestown has allowed more than six goals just twice in 10 games. The team hasn't allowed more than 11 goals in a game, particularly impressive when considering that Moorestown plays in a conference filled with elite teams from Central and North Jersey.

"The camaraderie of our team has been big this year," Moorestown junior goalie Dan Willis said. "I'm fortunate to have a great defense in front of me, and we all communicate well. Players like Anthony Sebastiani, Brendan Handlan, and Will Armstrong have done a great job of making shooters take shots that they really don't want to take."

For his part, Willis, a Villanova recruit, has built off a 2011 postseason that established him as one of the state's top goaltenders. Willis let in just 14 goals in three Group 3 tournament games last season.

"That gave him confidence that he was able to carry into this season," Wallenhurst said. "He's more in command of our defense this year."

Improbable milestone. In his team's final preseason practice, West Deptford senior Nick Reardon suffered a Grade 3 separation of his right shoulder.

"It was right at the line of needing surgery," Reardon said. "And the rehab for shoulder surgery could have kept me out for my first year of college, too."

Being healthy enough to play his freshman year at Susquehanna University was still a fear even without needing surgery.

That Reardon was on the field Wednesday for West Deptford's win over Bishop Eustace, a game in which he scored the 100th goal of his career, is beyond most people's wildest expectations.

Well, except Reardon's.

"The doctor told me I was going to be out for this season," Reardon said. "But I just wasn't going to let that happen.

"I worked hard in my rehab, I improved faster than anyone thought, and I got clearance."

Reardon, West Deptford's all-time leading scorer with 111 points, endured rehab three times a week for three weeks.

He's still playing limited minutes, but he has been productive in those minutes and is cherishing every one of them.

"People have had careers ended over shoulder injuries," Reardon said. "I'm just really thankful.

"It makes it even more special to score my 100th goal. That was something that I worked for, and I'm glad I got it."