There wasn’t even the slightest hesitation. “Absolutely” was the answer Chaminade Coach Jack Moran gave when asked earlier in the week how much the Flyers squad had wanted Reg’s Rock—the black obsidian trophy named for Manhasset native and Chaminade alum Jimmy Regan and prize for the annual meeting between themselves and Manhasset—back in their possession after a two-year separation. “And I’m sure they don’t want to let it go.”
The Indians lived up to that expectation Saturday night at home, rallying from a 2-0 deficit—both of which were scored appropriately enough by Flyer captain Sean Kuttin, who was given Regan’s number 19 jersey this year—to lead 5-3 at the first quarter. However, the rest of the game was a see-saw battle that ultimately had Chaminade landing on top for a 10-8 final. The Flyers’ victory puts them ahead 6-5 in the annual contest all-time.
“After last year, it was definitely a little sour, definitely in the back of our minds as we play this one,” Kuttin said before the game, referring to Manhasset’s 8-7 win in 2017. “We definitely want to get it back for Coach (Jim) Regan (Sr.) and the program where it belongs.”
The annual contest between the two is named for Chaminade alum and Manhasset native Jimmy Regan, Jr., a Duke University graduate and a national championship lacrosse player for the Blue Devils, who forwent a lucrative Wall Street career to enlist in the armed services in 2004, becoming an Army Ranger in the 3rd Battalion and completing two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq before an IED took his life during his second Iraqi tour of duty. Today, his father, James Regan, Sr., heads the Lead the Way Foundation, a nonprofit which serves to support disabled U.S. Army Rangers and their families and survivors. The Flyers have a tradition of bestowing the number 19 jersey via team vote on the player whom they feel most embodies Regan’s ideals. This year, not only does Kuttin wear it for the varsity level but his younger brother Kevin, also wears it on the JV Flyers—the first instance of this happening anytime since the tradition began.
“It’s definitely special. Special for my parents, definitely a testament to how our parents raised us and great for both my brother and I,” the elder Kuttin said.
This year, the Flyers have changed their tactical approach to the game, running transition, while the Indians opt for zone, meaning midfielders like Kuttin have less goal scoring and more assists on plays. Despite that strategy, Kuttin did end the night with 3 goals and two assists. One middie however, did steal the show: Will Kusnierek for Chaminade, a Manhasset native, who, along with sophomore attacker Louis Perfetto for the Indians, scored hat tricks, sparking intense jubilations from their respective benches.
“We’ve been getting on (Perfetto) the past couple of days and we’ve been working him hard at practice and I thought he was moving well, we’ve been trying to get him more aggressive attacking the goal,” said Manhasset coach Keith Cromwell. “We need him to be as impressive as he can be.”
After the first, Kusnierek netted a pair to spark a Chaminade rally to leave it knotted 7-7 at the half. Each side only had a goal apiece to end the third before Chaminade got two past senior goalkeeper Ryan Petracca.
“The first half it was a high scoring game and both teams were managing the ball and then the second half we got a little out of our funk a little—we only scored one goal in the second half and those guys went on a nice little run to end the quarter so they had the momentum,” said Cromwell.
Manhasset dominated the fourth quarter, keeping the ball inside the Chaminade box at one point for almost four straight minutes—but was unable to capitalize.
“We ran some guys a lot of minutes tonight so I think some of our guys were a little winded, I think they had some really good goalie plays and they started packing it in towards the end there and it was tough to penetrate. We tried to dial some stuff up out of timeouts and (Chaminade) just seemed to have everything covered. It was tough to try to crack that last opportunity and a credit to their defense to hold the fort down there,” Cromwell said post-game.
Later, Kusnierek was found lingering behind by the practice field long after the rest of the players had departed, the team bus long gone, reveling in the victory.
“It really is more than just a game, our whole bench, our whole team, everybody just got super hyped up, it meant a lot,” he recalled as he was mobbed when he got back to the sideline after goal number three. “I’m glad it was me tonight but it really could be any of us any given night. There’s nothing like it. We’ve got three (finals) on Monday, a history one that I didn’t even study for yet; all that means nothing right now, I’m just going to enjoy (this).”