The Ocean City and Egg Harbor Township high school boys lacrosse teams left Pennsylvania on Saturday with more than just another game under their belts.
The two teams participated in the HEADstrong Rivalry Games at Avon Grove High School. The event raised money to aid blood cancer patients and their families in battling the disease.
"It was a great experience for our team," EHT coach John Ohlsen said Sunday. "They realized they had a chance to play for something bigger than just a Cape-Atlantic League game."
EHT and Ocean City were the only two schools from New Jersey in the 12-team event. EHT won the game 13-1, led by junior Ryan King's five goals.
The HEADstrong Foundation was started by Michael Colleluori and his mother, Cheryl. They lost their brother and son, Nick, to large B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system.
The two teams got involved in the event when Ocean City coach Joe LaTorre, who knew Michael Colleluori well, inquired about the foundation. LaTorre immediately thought of EHT and Ohlsen and asked if they wanted to be a part of the games.
"I couldn't think of anybody else but EHT," LaTorre said Sunday. "Last year we split games with them, and they're a very talented program and they play the game how it's supposed to be played."
EHT and Ocean City raised more than $3,000 by collecting donations and selling T-shirts at their schools and events for the last month and a half, LaTorre said.
At the end of the game, Cheryl spoke to both teams and presented one player from each team an award for the best leadership on and off the field. EHT senior Mark Mason and Ocean City senior Kevin Wiesner were selected by their respective teammates for the awards.
Ocean City, despite being on the losing side, got a lot out of the event from a lacrosse standpoint. The Red Raiders got to the event early and were able to watch the game beforehand and see how lacrosse was played by a more experienced program.
"They were a little taken aback by the skill level and the talent that some of the teams had," LaTorre said. "In different areas they play different ways.
"They were just excited to get out of South Jersey for a day and see how the game was played in different areas."
The Oakcrest (1-2) and Cedar Creek girls teams will be participating in a HEADstrong Foundation game Friday at Richard Stockton College at 7:30 p.m. Both teams are having shirts made and have already donated funds to HEADstrong.
EHT's boys team (5-0) has a pair of big games this week. Today, the Eagles face Middle Township (2-0) in a clash between the CAL's top two teams, and Friday, they travel to face Cherokee (3-0), one of the top teams in South Jersey Group IV.
The EHT girls play against Middle Township (4-0) today and Ocean City (1-2) on Friday in a pair of tough CAL battles.
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