Sports

Szynal's OT Winner Gives Summit H.S. Girls Lacrosse Victory Over Oak Knoll, 10-9

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Junior Julia Szynal readies for the Free Position opportunity she would ultimately bury, an goal that lifted Summit an over Oak Knoll in overtime. Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
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SUMMIT, NJ - When Spanish fútbol giants Barcelona and Real Madrid meet, the resulting match is known as El Classico.

Until a better moniker is unearthed perhaps -- in the spirit of "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" -- it is allowable that this label is borrowed to describe the clash of girls prep lacrosse titans that is Summit High School versus Oak Knoll School.

Both recent state Tournament of Champions winners, the games between the schools both based in the 07901 have been -- especially these past few years -- legendary. So, when the two elite powerhouse programs lined-up against each other Saturday on the Upper Turf Field it was no surprise that -- no matter one's rooting interest -- the resulting tilt was another classic.

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Down two goals very late on, the visiting Royals forced overtime, where the Maroon and White won a hotly contested draw which eventually set up a Free Position opportunity for the Hilltoppers' Julia Szynal. The junior scored, giving her a Hat Trick, and giving Summit a 10-9 victory in what could be best described as an insta-epic edition of the in-town rivalry.

In addition to Szynal's three goals, junior Katia Carnevale scored a Hat Trick -- giving her 16 on the young season -- and classmate Anna Griffith added a pair of tallies to pace Summit.. Senior captain Amy Martino had five saves in goal.

Annabelle Zebrowski had five goals for Oak Knoll and Ryan Schlageter was credited with five stops between the pipes to lead the visitors.

Summit -- now 3-0 on the season -- never trailed in the contest, but also never had more than a two-goal cushion, and the affair was knotted on five separate occasions. The scoring in the punch-counter punch contest driven by two distinct and dominant factors: ball possession and execution.

The Hilltoppers took the lead at the 22:50 mark of the opening half when Griffith scored off a Free Position opportunity, but Zebrowski scored a minute later.

Back-to-back goals from Carnevale just over three minutes apart gave Summit a 3-1 advantage but, in a foreshadowing of events to come and arrive again several times, the Royals leveled things through two goals, one each from Katie Kelly and Zebrowski.

Carnevale scored her third, and then set up senior captain Helen Louise Johnson's goal with just over four minutes left in the half, sending the Hilltoppers to the break back up by a deuce at 5-3.

The second half saw Oak Knoll shade the position struggle both early and late, with the former getting the Royals back on even terms at 5-5 -- five minutes into the final 25 -- through goals by Mary Kelly Doherty and Zebrowski.

Szynal's first of the day and a lefty rip from Griffith bumped Summit ahead 7-5, but Oak Knoll came right back through Zebrowski and Kayleigh Wolff.

Like a game of Pong, Szynal and junior Anna Huntley-Robertson -- off a sweet back-door toss from Carnevale -- restored the two-goal lead, but now there was just 2:19 left and time was running out for an answer for the visitors.

Two minutes-plus, though, is essentially an eternity in lacrosse in general, especially when facing a top-flight opponent and, as it turned out, it was ample time for the Royals to flush home two goals and send the game to overtime.

First Christy Sieber found the back of the net with 1:39 remaining and then, following the crucial draw control, Zebrowski connected from long distance on a bounce shot with 28 seconds left.

Both teams had the ball for a brief spell before the horn, but neither was able to muster an attempt on target.

The opening draw of OT -- the winner of which was better than even money to end up the game's winner -- looked to deflect out of bounds off an Oak Knoll stick, which would have given the Hilltoppers the ball. The referee ruled that it went untouched, however, and another nail-biter of a draw resulted.

Contested -- as the entire game was -- fiercely, the sequel draw resulted in the Royals initially winning the ball but eventually saw Summit emerging from the scrum with the rock. That possession led to a Free Position opportunity for Syznal who was just able to squeeze her low shot between Schlageter and the left post.

"I think what I like most was how hard we played today," said Summit Head Coach Mike Walsh. "We had bodies on the ground and really competed."

Next up for Summit is a home encounter with West Morris Mendham April 10. Game time on the Upper Turf Field is set for 4 p.m.

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