CLARK, NJ - Call it a 'Super Saturday Sweep'. Or, perhaps, a 'Resounding Redemption Re-Union'.
Whatever label one chooses to affix, the throne rooms of Union County Lacrosse are once again cloaked in Maroon and White, as both the Summit High School Girls and Boys Varsity Lacrosse Teams have reclaimed their respective Union County Conference Championships.
The Hilltopper Girls pulled away in the second half to beat Oak Knoll, 10-8, and then the Summit Boys took to the turf at AL Johnson High School and convincingly defeated Westfield, 8-5.
The twin triumphs means that both title trophies will be back in the Kent Place Boulevard campus' chalice case, with the Girls reclaiming the championship they had won for eight straight years before losing in overtime to Oak Knoll in 2017, while the Boys broke a streak of three straight, one-goal finals setbacks to Westfield and grabbed the top prize for the first time since 2014.
Girls Final: Second-Half Surge Fuels Summit's Conquest of Oak Knoll, 10-8
After a hyper-hectic first half that had more than enough action for an entire game, the Summit High School Girls Varsity Lacrosse Team steadily took control through a steady, complete second-half performance in all phases to outdistance Oak Knoll, 10-8.
Junior Katia Carnevale had four goals and classmate Julia Szynal had a Hat Trick to lead the Summit offense. In big games against elite opponents, beyond goals a team needs commensurately-sized performances in every key area and the Hilltoppers got just that, with goalie Amy Martino delivering the best game of her Summit career -- inarguable given the circumstances -- stopping 10 shots, including eight in the first half, and sophomore Sophie Zachara doing a stellar job on the draw.
All one needs to know about that first half is that, with 1:40 left on the game clock and the ball on the stick of Szynal, Summit Head Coach Mike Walsh yelled out a Deepak Choprah-like message to his team: "everybody take a breath." That directive could have been relayed over the public address loudspeaker, as the crowd was likely breathless after a roller-coaster opening 23-plus minutes that had the score knotted at 6-6.
Just over five minutes in, the Hilltoppers had taken a 3-1 lead behind goals from juniors Anna Huntley-Robertson, Carnevale and Szynal. Oak Knoll then reeled off four-straight goals to take early command of the game and 5-3 lead, as Annabelle Zebrowski, Katie Duttenhofer twice, and Mary Kate Doherty all scored.
From that point on through the remainder of the game, Summit responded with a next-level effort by digging deep on the draws, getting stops and big saves from Martino when they didn't have the ball, and executing on offense consistently when they did, to outscore the Royals 7-2.
Szynal, Carnevale and senior captain Anna Turk went bingo-bangs-bongo over a 70-second span and the Hilltoppers led 6-5. Zebrowski scored her second of the game to tie the game at six, but junior Anna Griffith notched a huge tally when she found the back of the net with just 1.3 seconds remaining before the break. The half ended with Summit leading 7-6 and that breath -- the one that Walsh told everyone to take -- could now finally happen.
The final 25 minutes of the game were much like the last five minutes of the first half: Summit simply made more plays in all phases to earn the win.
Szynal scored at the 23:37 mark to make it 8-6, then the defenses settled in until Duttenhofer got her Hat Trick goal with 8:39 left to narrow the Hilltopper lead back to one. Carnevale provided the Maroon and White answer to the questions Oak Knoll was asking, however, with two rips of her stick -- at 7:06 and 5:16, respectively, and Summit had a 10-7 lead.
Owning the majority of the ball over the final five minutes, the Hilltoppers made the clock their buddy and, despite surrounding a goal inside the final 20 seconds, they weren't about to give up the lead.
"We really stepped up defensively and helped each other out tonight," said Walsh. "These teams know each other so well, but it is one thing to read the scouting report and another to actually do it on the field. This trophy, and the tradition of winning it, is hugely important to our program. Last year really stung, and it is nice to get it back."
Boys Final: Strong Performance in Middle Frames Carries Summit Over Westfield, 8-5
Tied 2-2 after 12 minutes of play, the Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team made some defensive adjustments and executed their offense with clinical precision to pull away from Westfield, 8-5.
A very late Blue Devils goal made the scoreline seem more snug than the game really was, as Summit led 8-3 in the fourth quarter and was never truly threatened thanks to tungsten-like efforts in the second and third quarters, a period in which they outscored their opponents 5-1.
Senior Nick Thomson had a Hat Trick, classmate Eamon McTernan had two scores, and senior captain Will Vitton was big between the posts with 12 saves. Senior FOGO Joe Persche -- winning 11 out of 16 draws, including six of seven in the second half -- and junior Jackson Tyler, whose Yeoman's work up top in the Hilltopper defense effectively neutralized a potent Westfield attack, also played key roles in the triumph.
A dueling set of goal flurries left the game tied at 2-2 after the opening 12 minutes. Junior Skyler Schluter and Thomson scored 49 seconds apart, only to be answered by a pair of Blue Devils goals from Nick Bond and Matt Rittendale separated by just 16 ticks.
Summit took control of the game in a masterclass second stanza, which featured two goals by Thomson sandwiching a tally from junior Gray Humphrey. Driving hard to the cage from the right wing with the Hilltoppers a man down, Humphrey's finish was both a dynamic and an inspirational play, coming at a key point in the contest and giving the boys from the 07901 a two-goal lead.
Playing with a 5-2 lead and confidence in all areas, Summit looked composed in the second half and got two goals from McTernan in the third quarter -- partially offset by Rittendale's second of the game -- to make it 7-3 after three.
If the Blue Devils were going to make a comeback in the fourth quarter, they likely needed the next goal, but that score went to Summit junior Greg Moller. Up 8-3, Summit gave up a goal at the 7:47 mark but not another until the final 30 seconds and rolled to victory.
"We made some mistakes on defense early and then made some adjustments," said Summit Head Coach Jim Davidson. "On offense we were efficient -- aggressive but patient at the same time"
Hardware in tow, there isn't much celebration time for both the Girls and Boys Varsity Lacrosse Teams as the Girls are off to Ramapo May 7 for a 4:30 p.m. start while the Boys will take on Ridgewood at Investors Bank Field May 9. Face-off against the Maroons is also set for 4:30 p.m.