CLARK, NJ - The Summit High School Girls Varsity Lacrosse Team plays its home games on the school's Upper Turf Field but, based on history over the past eight years or so, the carpet at AL Johnson High School is taking the form of The Maroon and White's 'home away from home'.
The Hilltoppers quest for an ninth straight Union County Tournament (UCT) title moved to the final stage after a more-than-convincing 13-3 win over Westfield in the nightcap of the tourney's two semifinal games. Summit will face in-town rival Oak Knoll in another 'Summit Derby' - UCT Finals Edition May 6 at 5 p.m. in Clark. The Royals easily saw off New Providence 17-5 in the opening semifinal tilt.
The win over the Blue Devils was the Hilltoppers second in a week's time, with Summit winning at Westfield 16-7 on April 27. Over the course of the home / 'home away from home' series, the girls from the 07901 outscored their opponents 29-10.
Katia Carnevale had four goals -- three coming back-to-back-to-back -- all of which were scored in a first half that saw the Hilltoppers overwhelm Westfield and take a 9-0 lead after 22-plus minutes of action.
Helen Louise Johnson had a Hat Trick and Julia Szynal added a pair of markers, while senior captain Maddie Collins was sharp in goal making eight saves for Summit.
The Hilltoppers, now 12-1 on the season, scored six goals in just over seven minutes in the first half and, even though there was 40 minutes of lacrosse left to be played, any objective observer could not be faulted for turning at least one eye toward the all-Summit Final in 48 hours time.
After Johnson scored at 22:57, The Carnevale came to town, with the sophomore ripping home three straight BBs, and it was 4-0 with 18:07 left in the first half.
Tallies from Anna Griffith and Johnson made it 6-zip and there was still 15:38 remaining. After a roughly six minutes-long goal hiatus -- which offered a chance for Summit supporters to recharge their cheer meters -- Carnevale struck again, followed by a goal from senior captain Stella Spotts and another -- Summit's ninth unanswered -- from Szynal.
Westfield did get two goals to close the half via Hannah Liddy and Sydney Paoletti, but the damage had been done, and the Hilltoppers led 9-2 at the break.
Summit switched their offensive set in the second half, spreading the field a bit more and, while the tempo was dialed back somewhat, they still managed to pot four more goals.
Anna Huntley-Robertson, Johnson, Szynal and Olivia Kull all found the back of the net. Paoletti got one back for the Blue Devils.
"I liked our energy tonight, especially at the start of the game. We had not played in a while, so you are always wondering what effect that will have," said Summit Head Coach Mike Walsh.
On the upcoming Finals match-up and how he thinks it will compare to the teams' first meeting of the year, a gritty and somewhat grimy 9-4 Summit win on April 11, Walsh said, "They (Oak Knoll) are very talented and very athletic. I think both teams have gotten stronger since that time, so I think the game will be played at a higher level."
UCT Girls Lacrosse Final: Summit v. Oak Knoll at AL Johnson High School, May 6 at 5 p.m.