History of Columbia Lacrosse 1975-1983
Lacrosse officially became part of the Columbia High School athletic program during the 1974-75 school year.
The school's first head coach, Bob Curcio, guided the team to an 11-5 record during its inaugural high school season. The following year produced the school's first All-American in John Hooper.
The highlight of the 1977 season was Columbia's first trip to the State Championship game. Trailing 7-2 at half time, the Cougars rallied to tie the score at 7-7 with :06 remaining in the game before the exhausted, but courageous, squad fell 9-7. This marked the first of four consecutive appearances in the title game.
The 1978 season featured a 15-4 record, but the Cougars continued to fall prey to their rival and nemesis, Montclair, to whom they lost three times.
The 1979 team was the best in the school's history and arguably the best ever in New Jersey. The team was undefeated (17-0) and captured both the Coaches' Tournament and State Championship. Led by All-American Bob Bianchi (the New Jersey Player of the Year) and Jack Francis, this talented team produced ten All-State players and won Curcio "Coach of the Year" honors.
From 1978 to 1983 Columbia was "the team" in New Jersey lacrosse. It reached the title game every year from 1977 to 1983 with the exception of 1981.
The Cougars won their second state crown in 1982 behind the All-American play of Dave Sherwood and Mark DeCicco. The squad barely missed repeating in 1983, losing to Summit in the State Championship in sudden death.
1983 marked the end of Coach Curcio's tenure as he assumed the duties of Director of Athletics. During his nine years as head coach, Columbia reached the state semi-finals every year and the finals 6 times. In addition to producing thirteen All-Americans, thirty-nine Cougars were selected as First Team All-Sate players and eighty-five of the one hundred three graduates went on to play college lacrosse.
History of the Maplewood Lacrosse Club
In the late 1950s, a group of interested men in Maplewood formed the Maplewood Lacrosse Club in an effort to popularize the sport in our area. Nineteen years later it can be said, without reservation, that they succeeded. The sport grew rapidly as other clubs were started and many schools began to participate. Maplewood was instrumental in this growth as our teams played the game throughout the state as well as in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.
The Club started with a clinic in 1959, a young, inexperienced team that managed to score but one victory. That win, however, was the beginning of an outstanding record... fourteen consecutive winning seasons and five State Championships followed.
Lacrosse had come to New Jersey and the Big Green spread the word with their performances against college freshman, prep and high schools.
The Club was run, and still is, by fathers and mothers of the boys and interested citizens of the towns of Maplewood and South Orange. The players are students of Columbia High School or one of the junior highs. Money was raised each year through solicitations. The players were generally driven to away games by parents. Sandwiches were made, soda pop donated. So many generous people gave their time and energy over the years to make the club and the team a success. To name names would be unfair and an almost endless task.
The team became known as the "Green Bay Packers" of New Jersey school lacrosse. The spirit of the Club and the overall performance of the teams that represented it became known throughout the east as our graduates went on to play in colleges. The alumni return each year at seasons' end to play against the current team. Garbed in makeshift uniforms and helmets that shows the colors of Pennsylvania, Navy, Dension, John Hopkins, Rutgers, and any number of schools, some seventy of them returned last June for the annual encounter.
It was decided not to mention names in this brief history, but Carl Huelsenbeck and Dick MacNett cannot be passed by. The team had several coaches over the years but these two served the longest and both did outstanding jobs and were greatly admired by the lads who played under their direction.
And finally, the memories, the trips to Annapolis in a fruitless effort to win one against the Navy plebes... the hair raising encounters with Lawrenceville and the double overtime, sudden death win for a State Championship that left players and spectators limp... the long long trips to the Hill School... the donnybrook with the New York Military Academy... the shock of losing to Fair Lawn High and realizing after nine years that the rest of the world was catching up... the exhilarating victory over the Army plebes in the pouring rain at West Point and then repeating it the next year just to show it wasn't luck... the wild rivalry with Scarsdale Lacrosse Club... the trip to Penn, to Princeton and winning often enough... Lehigh and Delaware our dearest college friends who never were able to beat the Green Machine... Montclair H.S. after eleven straight losses finally getting our number and beating us 5- in a heartbreaking State Championship game... the Lancers Boys Club from Baltimore coming north and finding that lacrosse was played in Jersey too... the 6-2 win over the English H.S. All Stars in a remarkably well played game... Lacrosse Day in Maplewood at Underhill Field when bud Palmer did the honors and Lawrenceville cooperated once by losing... the first game at Cornell when our kids gave an undefeated Cornell Frosh team all it could handle... the schools at Boonton, Newton and Hanover Park becoming tough opponents as the game spread in NJ... the year our guys stole the show in the North-South H.S. All Star game by scoring eight of the North's sixteen goals in a winning effort before thousands of fans at Washington and Lee... the Pingry teams that always gave it all they had against Maplewood - sometimes it was enough... the fifty kids who made All-State, eleven(!!!) in one year...the banquets at seasons end... the awards... the meetings at members' homes where year in and year out we managed to raise just about enough money... best, best of all, the games.
(Author Unknown... circa 1970)
Click here to view championship information.
Columbia HS Lacrosse All-Americans
The following young men have been recognized as High School All-Americans by the United States Lacrosse Coaches Association in association with the National Interscholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association and US Lacrosse.
- JAMES BIANCHI '76
- JOHN HOOPER '76
- PAUL HOOPER '78
- ROBERT BIANCHI '78 &'79
- JACK FRANCIS '79
- JAY HARKEY '79
- RICHARD GLANCY '80
- ED LEWIS '80
- MICHAEL FIORINI '81
- VINCENT BEVACQUA '82
- DAVID SHERWOOD '82 & '83
- MARK DECICCO '83
- JOHN JANOWSKI '84
- PETER TURK '85
- ANDREW DECICCO '86
- DAVID DURKIN '89
- JOHN BROTHERS '91
- IAN CESARINI '99
- BRENDAN PORTER '06
- WILL MANGAN '08
- ADAM JOHNSTON '03