By John Kurkjian ’20
Each spring, the prestigious lacrosse programs from Chaminade High School and Manhasset High School compete to honor the legacy of Sgt. James J. Regan. Sergeant Regan, a Gold Star alumnus, was a Manhasset native who graduated from Chaminade in 1998. Regan was a standout athlete on the lacrosse field yet a humble person inside the classroom. He later went on to become an All-American at Duke University, graduating in 2002. Deciding to serve the call of duty overseas, Regan selflessly defended his country and was tragically killed in 2007. In his remembrance, the Army Lead the Way Fund has annually hosted the “Regs Rock” day since 2008.
On May 5, the Chaminade Flyers traveled to Manhasset, attempting to bring the “Regs Rock” crown back to Sgt. Regan’s alma mater. Heading into the game, the JV Flyers were determined and confident. After all, the Chaminade junior varsity lacrosse team has never lost to Manhasset since the beginning of the “Regs Rock” event in 2008. Chaminade’s Pierangelo Bonda-Riva ’20 won the opening faceoff, and defenseman Brendan McCabe ’20 set the tone for the half with an unassisted goal to give Chaminade a 1-0 lead in the first quarter. However, the Indians responded with two unanswered goals until sophomore Michael Lynch scored three goals in the second quarter to tie the game at 4 apiece. An important transition led by the midfield allowed Joe Beck ’20 to score, giving the Flyers a 6-5 lead heading into halftime.
The Flyers began the second half with a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. However, the third quarter ended in a stunning 8-8 tie, leading to a nerve-wracking fourth quarter. As soon as the fourth quarter began, freshman Nicholas Papagalis’ faceoff win ignited an extensive offensive possession for the Flyers, immediately putting pressure on Manhasset’s defense. With just 7:26 remaining the fourth quarter, Matthew Major ’20 scored, putting the Flyers up 9-8. After Major’s goal, Chris Kavanagh ’21 buried two more goals to extend Chaminade’s lead to 11-8 with just five minutes remaining. The Flyers’ defense, directed by sophomore goalie Conner Garzone, made key stops to prevent a Manhasset comeback, and, as the clock on the scoreboard struck zero, the JV Flyers stood victorious once again, defeating Manhasset with a score of 12-9.
The varsity game, perhaps one of the most anticipated games all season, concluded the exciting day. Tyler Sandoval ’19 took the opening faceoff for the Flyers at 7 p.m., and Sean Kuttin ’18 scored just two minutes into the game. This year, on the varsity level, Kuttin was selected to wear number 19, Sgt. Regan’s number during his time at Chaminade. Each year, one player is chosen to represent Sgt. Regan, and, for the first time ever, two brothers repped number 19, as Sean’s younger brother Kevin Kuttin ’20 was also wearing #19.
The Flyers looked to build off Kuttin’s goal, but the first quarter went back and forth, ending with a two point lead for the Indians. Senior Kieran Laurie netted two goals in the second quarter to keep the Flyers within a goal. A goal by Will Kusnierek ’18 tied the game at 7 with just 34.5 seconds till halftime.
Coming out of halftime, the Flyers were determined to create a larger offensive attack and halt Manhasset’s offensive push. One goal on each side made the score 8-8, compelling the varsity Crimson and Gold to make a move. This goal was soon achieved, as Chris Nicholas ’18 scored with less than ten minutes remaining. Moreover, their momentum led to yet another goal from Aidan Byrnes ’18 that would seal the victory in the end. However, the Indians continued to push and put the Flyers’ defense on edge with long offensive possessions for nearly four minutes. However, impressive saves by goalie Andrew Bonafede ’18 ensured the victory. The Varsity Flyers joined their JV team in claiming the “Regs Rock” crown, defeating Manhasset with a score of 10-8.
Reflecting on the significance of the game, captain Sean Kuttin said, “It was the most meaningful game of the year, filled with passion and emotion. Having Coach Regan on the sidelines means the world to us. We were proud to get this win for Coach Regan and Jimmy. I’m really excited to build off of this momentum for the rest of the season.”
After the game, both teams were asked to return to midfield for a speech about the goal of the annual “Regs Rock” games and how it means so much more than lacrosse. The speech is also accompanied by a trophy ceremony, where Coach Regan, the father of Sgt. James J. Regan, presented both trophies to Chaminade.
Mr. Regan explained, “It’s so special. Everyone gets involved, and, although it’s nice to come together to watch some great lacrosse, we get to honor Jimmy as well. Through the Lead the Way Fund we can support our troops overseas that heroically fight to defend this country. I think this event is really important to our culture, and it is a great way to support all of our veterans and current troops.”
The Varsity Flyers couldn’t have been more ecstatic about their victory, as they improved their overall record to 12-2 on the season. However, the Flyers’ main goal was not just to win but to comprehend the emotional value of the event and to revere Sgt. Regan’s life. Overall, the 2018 “Regs Rock” event was a success for the Chaminade lacrosse program but, more importantly, a great opportunity for communities to come together and honor the life of Sergeant Regan.