CEDAR GROVE, NJ - In just three years, the young Cedar Grove varsity girls lacrosse team had made tremendous strides.  One of the key players in that journey is junior Tracy Moreno. Last year, Moreno made history as the first CGHS girls lacrosse player to reach 100 points and this season she became the first to score 100 goals.  Throughout the season, she has consistently delivered for her team, including clutch plays in key Panther wins over Columbia and Caldwell. Moreno is the Allstate Cedar Grove Athlete of the Week. The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Shelby Mobley, Allstate Insurance Agent, 471 Pompton Ave., Cedar Grove.

“Tracy has consistently stepped up for us throughout the season. Early in the season our coaching staff asked her to make the transition from attack to midfield on the field and she made it look like a simple task,” Head Coach Sean Sweeney said.  “As the season progressed she continually improved and made all of her teammates around her better. In some of the biggest moments of the biggest games this year Tracy has made play after play. An obvious example of this was her game winning goal against Caldwell. Her drive and team-first mentality definitely make her deserving of this honor.”

“Team-first” is definitely an attribute that Moreno subscribes to, so when she was asked to switch from attack to midfield she really didn’t think twice.  

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“I changed positions because my team needed me to.  The transition was a lot easier than I expected, but I had to improve my defensive work a lot in order to step up and really help the team,” Moreno explained.  

After just three varsity seasons, Cedar Grove went from 3-17 in their first season to going undefeated in the Colonial South Conference this season and finishing with a record of 17-4.  Moreno, who served as captain this year, attributes the improvement to the team’s strong work ethic.

“We put in a lot of hard work and practice.  Our “team word” for the season was resiliency and I feel that everyone lived up to that word and played with a lot of resilience,” Moreno said. “We’ve had challenges this season, but everyone stepped up and got their job done.”

Some of those challenges included tough matchups against Columbia and Caldwell -- teams Cedar Grove had never beaten until this season.  The Panthers defeated Columbia in April to win the squad’s first-ever Essex County Tournament game.  They went on to defeat Columbia again during a regular season matchup less than a week later.  

Cedar Grove also completed a come-from-behind win over Caldwell in early May.  Tied at 7-7, with less than a minute left to play, the Panthers nabbed a key ground ball.  After a time out, Sweeney elected to get the ball to Moreno who scored the game-winning goal with just 16 seconds left in regulation play.  

“Those two games were my favorites because we were the underdogs and nobody believed in us, but we did.  We came out victorious which is something that nobody expected and it felt really good,” Moreno said. “During the Caldwell game, when he (Sweeney) first pinned it on me, I was like “oh no, that’s a lot of pressure,” but I had faith in the team and I knew that even if I missed the shot we’d be able to win it in overtime.”

With her junior season behind her, Moreno now turns her focus to senior year.  She’s set high goals for herself and her team, hoping for another conference title and to finish first in their SEC  conference (the Panthers were second this year.) Sweeney will continue to rely on Moreno to be a leader on and off the field.  

“Tracy is a kid who is always ready to go no matter what the situation or circumstance and is the most level-headed kid on the field at all times.  She gets excited, don’t get me wrong, but always brings you back to that cool, calm, collected ready-to-go at any moment and you need that sometimes,” Sweeney said.  “We gave her the ball at the end of the Caldwell game because we trust her. We know that she’s a kid who’s going to make a play at the biggest moment, with the most pressure.”

The Cedar Grove Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Shelby Mobley Allstate, 471 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove.

Editor's Note:  Tracy Moreno is the daughter of Jeanne Moreno, Editor of TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove.  The Athlete of the Week is selected by the Athletic Director and Coaching Staff of Cedar Grove High School.

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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