Southern Regional Girls Lacrosse Team Comes Up Short of Division Crown

May 17, 2017
Photo by: David Biggy Southern Regional goaltender Shannon McCarthy protects the net during the Rams' 10-6 loss to Toms River South on May 10.

For the past two seasons, the Southern Regional High School girls lacrosse team has been within a victory of winning or tying for the Shore Conference Class A South division championship. On May 10, the Rams were in a similar position when they squared off against division-leading Toms River South.

Unfortunately, the Indians took a 6-3 lead in the first half and didn’t relinquish it, scoring a 10-6 victory and securing the A South crown.

“We’ve been close three years in a row now, and we just haven’t been able to finish,” said coach Lori Johnson, whose squad went into its NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV tournament first-round game against Williamstown on Tuesday with an 11-6 record. “It’s frustrating and it’s hard to explain. Offensively, we forced a lot and took bad shots. And when you have scoring chances and don’t capitalize, you lose games.”

Down by a goal with 20:17 left in the first half, Brooke Ciaccio tied the game with an unassisted goal, but the Indians bounced right back and scored a minute later. South added another goal with 15:10 to go in the half, before Shannon Lytle cut the deficit to one when she scored, unassisted, 42 seconds later.

However, during the next three minutes the Indians fired the ball into the net three more times to push their winning margin to 6-2. Crystina Blaney made it 6-3 with 10:17 left in the half, but despite a bunch more scoring chances, the Rams couldn’t find the net again until the second half, when Colleen Mason scored back-to-back just 49 seconds into the half and at 17:14, again cutting the lead to a goal, 6-5.

But the Indians squashed the Rams’ momentum just eight seconds later when Brooke Adams won the draw, zipped through the middle of the defense and tossed a shot past Southern goaltender Clare McCarthy, who finished with 22 saves. South scored the next three goals to put the game out of reach, 10-5, before Alexis Maul capped the scoring with 1:53 left.

“The first 15 minutes of the game, they won every ground ball and we weren’t closing the middle,” Johnson said. “Little things turn into big things in this game. And in the second half, we dominated possession but didn’t take good shots.”

The next day, the Rams rebounded with a 13-4 victory over neighboring Pinelands, as 10 different players scored goals. Kelly Fontana led the way with three goals and an assist, while Lauryn Flynn fired in two goals and gave out two assists. Rachel Bialecki, Kayla Brunner, Alina Devane, Jordan Korpon, Shannon Martin, Kaitlyn Spaschak, Blaney and Ciaccio each scored once. McCarthy made eight saves.

As the ninth-seeded team in the state sectional tourney, Southern had to travel to face the eighth-seeded Braves. A victory meant a quarterfinals clash with top-seeded Lenape.

“In a section with Lenape, Shawnee and Cherokee, it’s not an easy section to be in,” Johnson said. “But the experience can help our younger players, and it will give us an opportunity see what we want to aspire to next season. We have a lot of younger players, and, win or lose, big games against top competition helps.”

— David Biggy

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