Head Coach Byron Collins had one goal for the GSB Varsity Boys’ Lacrosse team this season: to get better, bit by bit, each and every day in practice. He believed that with that one singular focus, everything else would work itself out.
He was right.
The Knights (14-7) ended the 2023 season with the first state title in program history, a huge accomplishment, earned when they defeated Princeton Day School 10-8 in the Non-Public B State Championship.
“I’m so thankful for the players and for everyone who believed in our vision,” Coach Collins said. “During my six years in the program, we’ve spent the majority of our time on player development. The kids have worked hard, and it’s a personal highlight to see where we’ve ended up—both on the individual basis and as a team.”
Leading the team to victory were senior co-captions and offensive powerhouses Will Deo and Gavin Collins.
Deo, who was named NJSIAA 1st Team All-State Non-Public, 1st Team Prep B, and 1st Team Valley Division and who will continue his lacrosse career at Holy Cross next year, finished the season with 59 goals, 42 assists, and 48 ground balls. He concluded his high school career with 128 goals, 87 assists, and 92 ground balls—tallied in just three years—and he was the second player in the history of the GSB boys’ lacrosse program, as well as one of only 15 players in the state, with a 100-point season.
Kenyon-bound Collins, who also received a NJSIAA Honorable Mention All-State Non-Public recognition and was named 2nd Team Valley Division, recorded 15 goals, 22 assists, and 24 ground balls for the season and closed out his three-season high school career with 39 total goals, 37 assists, and 56 ground balls.
On the defensive side of the field, Michael Scarpati ’24, who was recognized on the NJSIAA 2nd Team All-State Non-Public and 1st Team Prep B, and goalie Colin Anderson ’25, who received 1st Team Prep B and 2nd Team Valley Division nods, both had incredible seasons. Scarpati recorded 109 ground balls and won 61 face-offs, and Anderson had 206 saves in his first year as a starter.
“We asked Scarpati to step into different positions depending on the needs at the time, and he did it,” Coach Collins explained. “He steps up to everything he’s asked to do, including face-offs or neutralizing the other team’s best player, and he does it. And Anderson, well, he was the leader of our defensive effort. We wouldn’t have had the championship run we did without him.”
As injuries required shifts in the lineup, more than one player was asked to adapt, including Brendan Schwalb ’25 who moved from midfielder to attack. He ended the season with 23 goals and 24 assists, an impressive record for a sophomore, but what struck Coach Collins more was his selflessness.
"His flexibility and team-first approach were the glue that held the team together,” Coach Collins said. “You won’t get anywhere as a team without a kid like that.”
The culmination of the season was the final award the team received: Coach Collins was named Coach of the Year by the New Jersey Interscholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association (NJILCA).
"The entire GSB community is beyond proud of Coach Collins,” Director of Athletics Jenn Noon said. “The positive recognition could not have come at a better time, especially with the adversity his family has faced this year. Coach Collins is a class act, and no one is more deserving than him, his staff, and his team on all the accomplishments they attained this year!"
When asked to comment on the recognition, Coach Collins could only speak about the community support which allowed him to coach.
“This is a community award,” Coach Collins insisted. “Without Jenn Noon, Athletic Trainer Glen DePino, who was the real MVP of the team, Assistant Coach Sal Tromonda, who took on so much responsibility, and the GSB lacrosse families, who were overwhelmingly supportive, the success of this season wouldn’t have happened. Everyone did so much to help me and my family so that I could be there to coach.
The awards and championships are a celebration of everyone—and everything they’ve done. The GSB community made this success possible, and I hand my Coach of the Year trophy over to them. To finish the season this way after everything that has been done for us is amazing. It is truly a remarkable way to end the year.”