Increased Scoring Leads Southern Girls Lacrosse Team to Hot Streak
Four games into the season, the Southern Regional girls lacrosse team was struggling a bit. Coach Lori Johnson’s Rams had lost three of their first four and weren’t scoring too much, averaging less than six goals per game.
But something changed between April 3, when the Rams lost a 4-3 contest to Central Regional, and April 5, when they took on Shore Conference Class A South rival Jackson Memorial, Johnson’s former program. In fact, the Rams have won five straight since the loss to the Golden Eagles, averaging just over 11 goals per game.
“We got more serious,” said senior attacker Kelly Fontana. “We finally figured out some things, and started using everybody on the field. It took us a little time, but we got used to each other. Then our offense started to get better, and now we’ve won three straight.”
The latest of those five victories occurred on April 15, when Southern whacked Toms River East, 11-3. Shannon Lytle led the charge with five goals, while Shannon Martin and Brooke Ciaccio each hit the back of the net for a pair of goals, and Alexis Maul and Crystina Blaney each fired in one goal. Senior Lauryn Flynn gave out a pair of assists and goaltender Clare McCarthy made nine saves to help the Rams improve to 6-3 on the season.
Two days earlier, the Rams mustered a big Shore Conference Class A South victory over Toms River North, 9-8. Southern was down at the half, 5-3, before scoring six times in the second half to snag the win. Fontana and Lytle each scored twice, while Ciaccio, Flynn, Maul, Maddie Leyh and Alina Devane contributed goals. Blaney and Ciaccio each handed out two assists. McCarthy made nine saves against the Mariners.
On April 11, Maul fired in a shot from 10 yards with just under two minutes to go and the Rams knocked off Brick Memorial, 8-7, for their third straight victory since the Central loss. Going into the half knotted at 4-4, Southern scored four more times to squeeze by the Mustangs. McCarthy again had nine saves, while Flynn and Lytle each scored three goals and Maul fired in two.
With the five straight wins, the Rams sat at 6-1 in A South heading into an April 18 contest against division-leading Central (4-0). Another Golden Eagles victory will put them squarely in position to win A South during the coming weeks, but a Southern victory should make the race for the division crown quite exciting heading toward May.
Pinelands Baseball Team
Improves to 4-2
Following a 2-1 start to the season, the Pinelands Regional baseball squad had another 2-1 week during spring break, improving to 4-2 on the season.
After losing their first game of the season on April 8, the Wildcats bounced back with a 5-2 win over Shore Conference Class B South foe Lacey on April 10. Pinelands scored four runs in the top of the first inning and never looked back, adding their other run in the second. Sophomore lefty Noah Dean earned the victory on the mound, giving up two hits and striking out 10 through five innings.
Two days later, the Wildcats cruised to a 5-0 win over Point Pleasant Borough, as Peter Hammond went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs and a pair of doubles to help lead the offense and sophomore Joey Ventresca delivered a complete-game three-hitter with 11 strikeouts and no walks. Pinelands led 3-0 after the first. Sean O’Rourke went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Anthony Diaz went 2-for-4 and Brandon Weedo had a hit and an RBI in his only plate appearance.
Unfortunately, the winning streak was cut short when Donovan Catholic scored a 4-2 win over Pinelands on April 13.
After a 2-0 start, the Pinelands golf team sustained its first loss of the season during the spring break, but bounced back with a pair of victories later in the week and now sits at 4-1, including a 3-1 mark in the Shore Conference Class B South division.
On April 11, the Wildcats fell short against Jackson Liberty, 176-179, despite solid rounds of 43 by Connor Carney and 44 by Kayla Gutierrez, who birdied the 310-yard, par-4 third hole. Austin Carney and Chris McGrotty, who birdied the 500-yard, par-5 ninth hole, each came into the clubhouse with scores of 46.
The next day, Pinelands scored a pair of wins – 169-198 against Point Pleasant Borough and 169-179 against Donovan Catholic. McGrotty again birdied the ninth hole at Sea Oaks en route to a team-leading score of 40, while Austin Carney carded a 42, Gutierrez finished with a 43 and Connor Carney managed a 44.
— David Biggy