SUMMIT, NJ - All in all, it was a pretty deflating week to be a Patriot.
First, the National Football League's New England-based team had their alleged -- the organization has appealed the ruling -- infractions aired in a 68-page League report, which resulted in a $1 million fine, the loss of two draft picks, and a four-game suspension of their star quarterback.
Then, the Patriots from Lenape Valley High School -- seeded 16th -- had to travel to the Hilltop City to face the top-seeded Summit High School Girls Varsity Lacrosse Team to open the NJSIAA Playoffs.
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The common theme with these two occurrences: punishment.
In a game that was as close as the score indicated, nine Hilltoppers scored -- including Hat Tricks for Callie Humphrey, Julia Harkins, and Sara Szynal -- as Summit shellacked Lenape Valley, 17-2, and advanced to the second round of the NJSIAA tournament.
Summit opened the game on 3-0 blitz in the opening minute and twenty-three seconds and never looked back. Harkins scored 48 seconds in, followed by Szynal 21 seconds later, and then Humphrey 14 seconds after that.
It was 4-0 when Humphrey netted her second at 21:38, before Lenape Valley got on the board just over two minutes later.
The Hilltoppers responded to be scored upon by reeling off the next six in the subsequent 11 minutes to take a 10-1 lead. Audrey Hannigan, Szynal, Julia Persche, Emily Kalin, Olivia Kull, and Humphrey's Hat Trick goal doing the damage.
After a Patriot goal made it 10-2, Summit added a pair before halftime courtesy of Samantha Forsyth and Harkins.
Even while substituting liberally from the 10 minute mark of the first half, Hilltoppers Head Coach Mike Walsh saw his team possess the ball for all but a couple of minutes of the final 25, and racked up five more goals.
Szynal's Hat Trick tally, Harkin's identical feat, Persche's second, freshman Helen Johnson, and Hannigan's second all added to the Lenape Valley misery. The total would have been more lopsided if Summit didn't choose to play "keep away" the final 10 minutes of the game, forgoing numerous opportunities to advance goalward.
While the obvious competitive imbalance of the match presents a unique set of challenges, Walsh knows it is just step one of a long journey. "The reason why you work hard during the regular season is to get the top seed," he said. "What comes with that are games like this. We want to make sure that we continue doing the right things, the way we need to do them, to continue to be successful in the tournament."