Boys Lacrosse Coach of the Year: John Pampalone, Southern

Boys Lacrosse Coach of the Year: John Pampalone, Southern


Boys Lacrosse Coach of the Year: John Pampalone, Southern


Southern coach John Pampalone was able to check off most of his wish list for his team this season.

The Rams won their second division title in school history, made it to the Shore Conference Tournament final, won the NJSIAA South Group IV title and made it to the NJSIAA Group IV final. The SCT final appearance, the sectional title and the state final appearance were accomplished for the first time in school history.

“I think we met every expectation we had for ourselves. We set the bar pretty high this season. At times this year, it was grueling. Before this season, we’ve never played as the hunted. We’ve always been one of the hunters,” said Pampalone, who finished his seventh season as the Rams coach.

Southern went 18-2 for the best record in school history and the Rams started the season on a 14-game winning streak that ended in the Shore Conference Tournament final with a 14-5 loss to Rumson-Fair Haven. During that winning streak, Southern held 10 of those 14 opponents to four goals or less.

One of the Rams most memorable games this season came on April 13 at Southern when the Rams defeated Class A South rival Jackson Memorial, 9-8, in triple overtime. That victory essentially paved the way for the Rams to win their second division title in school history after last winning the Class A South division in 2010.

“After the Jackson Memorial game on April 13, we had a little bit of a letdown and we had three or four games right that we did win right after that but we didn’t play our best lacrosse,” Pampalone said. “The players had a meeting and we went on a nice run all the way up to the Rumson-Fair Haven game on May 14.”

The Rams had one more spectacular run in them after the SCT final loss.

Southern was the No. 1 seed in the NJSIAA South Group IV bracket and defeated No. 16 seed Toms River North, No. 8 seed Egg Harbor and No. 5 seed Lenape by a combined score of 40-12 to reach the NJSIAA South Group IV final against No. 6 seed Monroe on May 25. The Rams throttled Monroe, 19-5, to win the school’s first sectional title and advance to the school’s first state final against eventual Tournament of Champions winner Ridge. On May 29, Ridge defeated Southern, 12-4, in the NJSIAA Group IV state final at Somerville High School.

“We had very special players on the team this season. 21 of the 24 varsity players were from last year’s team that went 17-4. So, we’ve coach most of them for three years,” said Pampalone, who now has a career record of 82-45. “This team was very close and this team really put in the work that it took to succeed. It was a privilege to coach them.”

Pampalone is graduate of Brick High School and New Jersey City University. He started with the Rams lacrosse program in 2003 as an assistant coach. In 2007, he became the head coach and has now guided the Rams to two division titles, one SCT final appearance, one NJSIAA sectional title and one NJSIAA state final appearance.

“After last year, we wanted to prove that we weren’t a one-year wonder and we did that this year,” Pampalone said. “Now, it is to prove that we are a program that is going to be around and reckoned with for a long time.”

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