UNION, NJ - In an NJSIAA Group 3 Final game that began late -- delayed 40-minutes due to a thunderbolt ominously close to the Kean University stadium midway through warm-ups -- the Summit High School Girls Varsity Lacrosse Team likely wishes their contest versus Moorestown had ended about six minutes early.
That's because, with about 390 seconds remaining, the Maroon and White were leading 6-5 and had spent the last several minutes pressing to get a seventh score, a goal that would have given them a vital, two-goal lead. Had that tally arrived, objective observers would have had to really like the Hilltoppers' chances, as their defense had kept the Quakers scoreless for the entire half up to that point.
The lucky -- for Summit -- seventh goal never arrived, but two Moorestown scores in less than a minute did, and that pair of markers proved decisive, as the Hilltoppers couldn't find an equalizer and were defeated, 7-6, ending their 2018 season.
Six Summit girls scored the six Hilltopper goals, and senior captain Amy Martino was super-solid in goal with six saves. The Quakers' Kayla Frank had a three-goal Hat Trick, and teammate Robin Panzarella had two scores, including the game-winner with 5:31 remaining. Logan Lillie was big between the pipes, with eight saves for the victors.
Playing in sauna-like conditions, the game lived up a comment Summit Head Coach Mike Walsh made to a reporter several days prior when he said, "It will be a grind."
Physical and feisty, the teams punched and counter-punched in a first half that saw the Hilltoppers chasing from the 23-minute mark and ultimately trailing at the half, 5-4. Goals from senior Emily Paytas and classmate and captain Helen Louise Johnson got Summit even at 2-2, however they fell behind by a goal thereafter but clawed right back on a score from junior Anna Huntley-Robertson at 7:20 mark.
Frank struck twice for Moorestown to give the Quakers a two-goal advantage -- the biggest lead either team would have on the day -- but the the Hilltoppers got a big boost before the break when junior Julia Szynal found the back of the net.
The first goal of the final 25 minutes would be big and a likely tone-setter, and Summit got it when junior Katia Carnevale stuffed a shot in from the right side of the crease. Moments later, senior captain Anna Turk rifled a shot past Lillie and Summit led for the first time all afternoon, 6-5.
Both teams dug in, made stops and forced turnovers, but the Hilltoppers looked the more likely side to break through, as the Quakers appeared to be running out of gas. Carnevale had a great chance in front, was stoned by Lillie, but still Summit pressed. The Hilltopper 'D' made another stop, but then a turnover gave the ball right back to Moorestown.
Energy or not, giving a team like the Quakers extra offensive chances is mondo-taboo, and Moorestown cashed-in on the possession they earned off the Summit turnover, then won the draw and scored again.
There were still 5:31 remaining and, during that time, the Hilltoppers had numerous possessions but could not hang onto the ball, turning it over several times. In a frenetic stretch, the Quakers were having the same possession challenges as Summit, and gave the ball right back to the girls from the 07901 on three, separate occasions, but the Hilltoppers never seriously challenged Lillie over the final minutes.
A questionable blocking call while setting a screen snuffed out Summit's last-gasp opportunity, and Moorestown ran out the clock in the Hilltopper end of the field.
"I thought their goalie was really good, but Amy more than matched her," said Walsh. "There's no doubt that if we get a two-goal lead in the second half its a different game, but we just turned the ball over way too much today."
Summit ends its season with Sectional Title and a record of 18-4.