2019 All-LaxRecords Honors
Canyon Birch may not have set out to create a legacy, but after four years at Manasquan (N.J.) and accomplishing feats no player in school or state history had done before, and providing inspiration for his community, a legacy is what he leaves behind.
Birch accomplished broke several New Jersey records and helped his team to back-to-back state championship appearances in addition to earning a wealth of personal accolades.
Adding to that list is Birch being named LaxRecords.com 2019 Player of the Year. He was named an Under Armour and US Lacrosse All-American in addition to being named NJ.com and Shore Sports Network Player of the Year, but personal honors was never Birch’s goal - just a result.
"I felt like I just had to go out play my game and play the best I could play for my team in my community," Birch said. "I wanted to try and elevate the sport of lacrosse around here and just try to get Manasquan more on the map and just try to make my teammates the best players they could be whether it's in a practice or a game."
Birch spent the last two years putting his name atop the New Jersey record book and helped make Manasquan (N.J.) a household name in both the state and nation. Birch helped the Warriors reach the state championship game in three of his four seasons (2016, 2018, 2019). Those mark the first three appearances in the state title game for the program.
On the way to helping to make his team better, Birch accomplished things no player in New Jersey history had ever done.
"As a player to be a part of that class and be recognized as one of the people to get Manasquan on the map, so to speak, it was a truly an honor," Birch said. "It means a lot I mean kind all of us we all started playing together we're in fifth, sixth grade. Coming into high school, that's all we really talked about was trying to elevate Manasquan."
"He's been the most dominant player not just in the area that I cover which is the Shore Conference but in New Jersey for the last two years, Bob Badders Managing Editor at Shore Sports Network said. "The numbers speak for themselves. He's a truly gifted score he's put up numbers that nobody is seen in New Jersey before him."
Those numbers include New Jersey's first 500 point scorer, the all-time leader for most goals in a career, and the season record for most goals.
Birch passed Matt Poskay (A.L. Johnson) for New Jersey's all-time scoring lead early during the 2019 season, completing his career with 558 points. Birch's record is 90 points ahead of Poskay. For context, Poskay broke the previous record held by Tommy Duerr by 37 points.
Birch broke the state record for most points in a season after scoring 175 as a junior. That broke Teddy Hatfield's record of 170 that was set in 2014. He finished his senior season with 169 points, which is third in state history for the most points in a season.
He has two of the Top 3 goal-scoring seasons in state history with 123 goals in 2018 and 118 in 2019.
Birch’s accomplishments expand beyond the borders of New Jersey.
He ranks No. 3 all-time for career goals, behind only Zed Williams (Silver Creek) and Justin Anderson (Centennial). Only 10 players in history have scored at least 350 goals in a career.
Leaving a Legacy
Birch's accomplishments helped to make his school more of a household name on a national level, but for Birch and his teammates, it's as much about growing the game on the local level.
"We're trying to become more of a hotbed in New Jersey, especially the Jersey Shore where we're starting to get a lot more players at younger ages," Birch said. "We were big about giving back to our community as a team. We'd always have our younger guys who are playing for club teams around the area on the sideline. Being able to have them there and cheering us on really really helped us. I feel like it set the tone for the next few years with the younger guys knowing what they have to do to be successful."
Birch is part of a senior class that includes Michael Page (Syracuse) and Ryan Anderson (Stockton) that went 81-11 in their four seasons. Before their arrival, the Warriors were 44-29 from 2012 to 2015.
"They wanted to set that legacy and then set the bar with the rest to follow. It does mean a lot to them," Badders said. "Every time I seem to be talking to them about something they do seem to mention that - legacy and what their legacy means, but more importantly what's it's going to mean for the rest to follow."
Birch hopes to continue building another legacy. He is the first Penn State commit among the nation's top 15 scorers of all-time and joins a squad that includes Joe White (Collegiate) who was among the first in Virginia history to reach 400 career points in 2018.
The Nittany Lions won their first NCAA tournament game in program history last season in addition to winning the most games in program history (16). They scored the most goals (323) and posted the longest winning streak (13) in program history.
"I like to look at the accolades and use it as motivation to become a better player, but I have a short memory with it, to be honest," Birch said. "Next year, heading into Penn State, we play one of the best schedules in a country. You got to have a short memory because we had this year, but next year is a whole new ballgame. I've been really fortunate and really blessed, and I'm really thankful, but the biggest thing is keeping my mind right and getting ready for next year.
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