At 6-2, Barnegat Girls Lacrosse Squad Is Surging Under Second-Year Coach

Apr 25, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Barnegat sophomore Maddie Schleicher zips by a defender and heads toward the goal during the Bengals’ 11-7 victory over Donovan Catholic on April 19.

It’s amazing what one coach can do to a team inside one year. Last year at this time, Barnegat girls lacrosse head coach Lyndsey Torre – the new coach on the block – had taken on a program that was very much in a rebuilding state. With only a couple of seniors in the starting lineup, she challenged all her younger players to get better, to start thinking about future goals for the program, to not settle for being an average team in the Shore Conference Class B South division.

“She’s the greatest coach ever,” said sophomore scoring sensation Maddie Schleicher, who on April 19 tallied five goals to lead the Bengals to an 11-7 victory over Donovan Catholic, advancing the team’s record to 6-2. “She pushes us really hard every practice, and she’s made us all so much better. She’s definitely the reason we’re doing so well right now.”

Last week, the still-young Bengals looked every bit like a program on the rise, not only beating Donovan, but earlier in the week knocking off Lacey, a program that has been among the cream of the crop in the division for years.

“Beating Lacey was a big turning point in our program,” Torre said. “That was the big confidence booster we needed, and now our girls know they can play with the better programs in our division. But today was a great step for us as well. We’ve been just pulling out wins, and in the second half today our girls made it all about playing Barnegat lacrosse and not playing their game.”

The Bengals led 3-1 with two minutes to go in the first half before a slight defensive meltdown occurred – allowing the Griffins to not only climb back into the game, but take a 5-4 lead by halftime.

“I saw a lack of hustle,” Torre said of her crew. “Donovan’s players were beating us to every ball, and their momentum went up while ours dropped.”

During the intermission, Torre simply reminded her players that they needed to play at full steam all the time, and they still had 25 minutes to turn things around.

It took just over a minute and a half. At 1:42, freshman Alexis Jackson fired in the tying goal, and 35 seconds later junior Kara Ferrigno buried the first of a three-goal onslaught during the next 4½ minutes.

“Our coach reminded us that we were much better, and in the second half we just had to play our game,” said Ferrigno, who finished with two goals and a pair of assists. “We needed to possess the ball better in the second half. We’re learning to manage our possessions better and play more consistently all the time, and we’re getting better with each game.”

After goals by junior Chloe McGee and Schleicher, the Bengals were up 9-6 with 15 minutes left. With 11:22 to go, Ferrigno pushed the lead to four goals, 10-6. Donovan trimmed the lead back to three with just over nine minutes left, but the Bengals’ defense clamped down, and with 7:23 to go, sophomore Jennie Woodcock sealed the victory by receiving a pass from Ferrigno and tossing a shot into the net from 8 yards away.

“Our defense is killer,” said Schleicher, who as of Monday had thrown in 30 goals this season. “We have a lot of tough girls who aren’t afraid of anything, and they just get to the ball and take it up the field. They’ve been playing great so far. But everyone is taking the game much more seriously than we did last year. We’re working hard and getting better every game, and we’re trying to win a B South championship.”

With undefeated Point Pleasant Borough atop the standings for the time being, winning that division title will be easier said than done for the Bengals. Barnegat was scheduled to play the Panthers on April 16, but rainy weather postponed the contest.

“Point Borough is the benchmark,” Torre said. “They have a great team that’s very well coached, and they have experience with a lot of weapons. When we play them, it’s going to come down to little things and hustle. But that’s going to show us where we’re at and whether we can play with the top of our division.”

Regardless of what happens against Point Pleasant, the Bengals have plenty of season left to continue making strides. And with Schleicher leading the offensive charge, Torre doesn’t seem concerned about the team’s progression – she knows her players’ capabilities and just how far she can push them.

“Things are clicking right now,” she said. “We still have a lot of lacrosse left, and we’re a super-young team. Our biggest thing is being consistent. We have a great group of girls and a lot of talent out there, but they have to learn to not play down to other teams and play our game. But at this point of the season, we’re making great strides, and I’m happy about where we’re going. They’re starting to really develop a lacrosse IQ, and that’s the really exciting part.”

— David Biggy

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