SUMMIT, NJ - The Summit High School Girls and Boys Varsity Lacrosse Teams both enjoyed remarkably successful seasons. Each lost just one game heading into their respective Tournament of Champions Final games, each featured a true team concept built not around one -- or a select group of -- players, and each was coached brilliantly by men who team's exude discipline, fundamental excellence, and class.
So, given the commonalities, it is perhaps fitting that their seasons ended in relatively similar fashion. Each came up one victory short, dropping their Tournament of Champions Finals by identical two goal margins.
The Hilltopper Girls fell to Moorestown, 8-6, and the Boys were edged by Delbarton, 7-5. Both teams had leads at their respective halftimes but were overtaken in the early stages of the second half, losing the possession battle, and -- in that window of the game -- seeing one opposition player dominate the score sheet.
Moorestown 8, Summit 6
After giving up the opening goal, Summit struck back through Olivia Kelly, who drove hard from the right to score. It was 2-1 Hilltoppers when Sara Szynal took a feed from Meaghan Celmer and blasted a shot high into the net, only to see the Quakers score two quick goals to regain the lead at 3-2.
Summit leveled the score with just under 10 minutes to play in the half when Kelly got her second, ripping a free opportunity shot up high. Consecutive goals from Szynal, her second and third of the contest, made it 5-3 Summit, the first coming on a peek-a-boo move from behind the goal, and the second a solo dodge and jam-shot finish from the edge of the crease.
The Hilltoppers could have built upon their lead, but Szynal hit the right post, and Madeleine Gramigna rattled the crossbar. Nonetheless, Summit led at the half by two.
The first 12 minutes of the second half turned out to be decisive and, unfortunately for Summit, that period of play was all Moorestown. The Hilltoppers could not get possession and, when they did get the ball, the Quakers suffocating rides and defending were stripping it away.
From the seven minute mark of the first half until the 12 minute mark of the second, Summit did not score, but Moorestown standout Marie McCool did -- four times.
Already a catalyst for draw control, scooping up seemingly every loose ball off each draw, McCool scored in the 20th, 18th, 17th, and 15th minutes to give the Quakers a 7-5 lead. Moorestown added an eighth goal before Summit -- through an unassisted goal from Catherine Cordrey -- made it 8-6 with 12 minutes to go in the game. Cordrey's stick getting checked as she shot produced a change-up that eluded the Quaker's goalie.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Moorestown's game, however, is that after they win possession, they keep it. And so, for the last seven minutes of the game, the Quakers put on a keep-away exhibition, eventually running out the clock and leaving the Hilltoppers one game further than they progressed in 2013,, yet one game short of their ultimate goal.
"I thought we played great defensively, but we just didn't have enough of the ball," said Summit Head Coach Mike Walsh. "We gave them (Moorestown) a good fight, and we had a great year. We got one step closer - next season starts tomorrow."
Delbarton 7, Summit 5
Matt Fischetti hit Connor Murphy on a fast break, and Murphy cranked a low shot into the cage to give the Hilltoppers an early 1-0 lead.
Despite surrendering a tying goal to Delbarton's Will McCartney, Summit Goalie Sam Bebout was making saves at every turn and, after one sequence when he made three in a row, the Hilltoppers re-took the lead as John Cordrey powered in an overhead shot to send the Summit fans into delirium.
Pegged back by Delbarton and tied at two, Cordrey struck again, avoiding a check and dodging out from behind the goal to stuff the ball home with 26 seconds left in the second quarter. The goal gave Summit a 3-2 lead at the break.
Delbarton has their own Cordrey, however, and -- when Summit could not gain or keep possession in the third quarter -- Emmet Cordrey went to work. His third-quarter Hat Trick, along with another Green Wave goal, gave Delbarton a 4-0 whitewash win in the period, and a 6-3 lead heading to the fourth.
The Hilltoppers clawed back, as James Strabley fed Fischetti at the 9:39 mark, and Strabley connected from Cordrey and 8:18. It was 6-5, and the stage was set for a frantic finish. But JJ McBride, prolific throughout the tournament but held in check by Summit's defense most of the night, scored on a rebound to make it 7-5. The Hilltoppers had several more possessions, but were unable to break through.
"Tonight's result doesn't take anything away from what the team accomplished this year," said Summit Head Coach Jim Davidson. "Just like we have all season, we battled tonight, we just came up short. Our kids did an unbelievable job, coming from where we started to where we ended. This group was incredibly unselfish and team-oriented, and I am very proud of them."