SUMMIT, NJ - Struggling to get the ball and then not taking great care of the rock when they actually had it, the Summit High School Girls Varsity Lacrosse Team saw Mountain Lakes dictate the pace of play, slowing the game down to create essentially a one-possession game. The visitors used that tactic to full effect when they scored late to take the lead before going on to shock the Hilltoppers 9-7 on the Upper Turf Field.
The setback drops Summit's record to 6-2 on the season.
Senior captains Julia Szynal and Anna Griffith, along with junior Sophie Zachara, all each had two goals for Summit, while senior captain Katia Carnevale also scored. Senior captain Anna Huntley-Robertson had two assists and sophomore Dianna D'Onfrio had four saves in goal.
Kate Carolonza and Sophia Holt each had Hat Tricks to lead 'Lakes.
The game -- occupying a middle slot in a string of five games falling within a spring break period that began a couple of days early with a two-match trip to Washington, DC -- saw the home team start sluggishly, turning the ball over in several forced and unforced situations, the effect of which was to amplify the possession disparity the Lakers were creating by winning the high majority of the draws, something they were accomplishing via their ability to consistently emerge superior on 50-50 loose ball situations.
While the first 25 minutes of a girls prep lacrosse game doesn't always foretell the tilt's outcome, the first half on a windy, spring ain't here yet day did, in fact, offer a glimpse into the future. The teams ended the half knotted at 3-3, with the Lakers following a recipe that read: win the ball and execute extended possessions - then repeat.
The Hilltoppers didn't make things easier on themselves by committing some uncharacteristic mistakes and it was clear to many observers that the home team was in for a grinder, a 'slog-ish' afternoon that, it turned out, they weren't totally up for.
The pattern established in the first half stayed in form throughout the final 25 minutes, and the Maroon and White trailed 6-4 inside the game's final two minutes before going on a spurt that featured elevated energy and pace which, not surprisingly, netted them two goals and a tie score.
First, Summit's number 3 broke down the middle and cut to her right before flipping the ball behind her back and high into the cage. The circus goal by a girl named Carnevale narrowed the gap to a single goal at 6-5 with 8:50 to go.
Then, back on the ball, the Hilltoppers got back on level ground when Griffith was whacked as she charged in on goal. On the ensuing Free Position opportunity, the senior captain splashed the back of the net and, with 6:25 on the clock, the game was deadlocked again, 6-6.
Summit was looking more and more like, well, Summit, and had the ball and some chances to take the lead. But the Hilltoppers were unable to score again and, with 1:45 remaining, Carolonza -- off a feed from Brenna Wilson -- put 'Lakes ahead for good and then the visitors tacked on another inside the final minute. Summit eventually got the ball back, but there were less than 20 seconds remaining and soon thereafter a rare Hilltopper home defeat was a reality.
"Mountain Lakes is very good team that is well-coached and, historically, the games with them are tight," said Summit Head Coach Mike Walsh. "We couldn't get the ball which allowed them to set the pace, plus we were sloppy and tuned the ball over."
Summit (6-2) won't have much time to stew over the loss as they will be right back on the Upper Turf Field April 17 to face Roxbury. Game time is set for 4 p.m.