By Chris Goldberg
TopLaxRecruits.com, Posted 7/21/17; Updated 7/23/17
MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – New Jersey used a 7-1 run that started late in the first half to defeat two-time defending champion Pennsylvania today in the high school girls’ championship of the Brine National Lacrosse Classic at the River City Sportsplex.
New Jersey had fallen to PA each of the past two years in the title game and after taking a quick 3-0 lead, Pennsylvania scored five straight goals.
But Ashley Dunleavy and Hannah Bunce scored to tie the game before halftime and Jordan Baerga made it 7-6 early in the second half. PA’s Arianna Lavelle scored her fourth goal to tie it, 6-6, but New Jersey dominated the draw and tallied the next four goals, by Jenna McHale (two goals), Mackenzie Furlong, Abigail George and Mackenzie Boyle (two goals), to take control.
“I played the last 2 years with New Jersey and we lost to PA each time,” said Bunce, a 2018 midfielder at The Hun School. “Winning the championship is definitely a great experience. They had the lead but we kept our heads in the game.”
“We all created a bond from the beginning and played as a team and kept it together,” added McHale, a 2020 attack from Bernards. “We all settled each other down at halftime and said some pump-up words and came out strong in the second half.”
The NJ goalies also were a major factor. Shannon Twill, a 2019 from Watchung Hills, had six saves and many key low stops in the second half while Brooke McCormick (2019, Hillsborough) was strong in the first half.
“I think our team was successful because we bonded so well,” Twill said. “There were no selfish players on the team; everybody wanted everybody else to have their moment.
“I kind of just anticipated (low shots). Most of the time goalies say, ‘Low shots are our hardest shots’ so I am OK, ‘Anticipate low and bang it right out.'”
Added George (2019, MF/ATT, Red Bank Catholic): “We all played as a team and a lot of players that come together from different clubs don’t have that. And we owe that to our goalies.”
Furlong, a 2020 MF/ATT from Morris Knolls, said winning the second half possession was a key: “A hundred percent draw controls, from the first half to the second half. That was the main reason for all our possessions and goals.”
PA coach Brooke Watson, who has coached with Kelli Romano as the assistant each of the three years, had only positives to say: “I am always amazed how these athletes gel as a team in a short time,” she said “Our focus is to be energetic and positive, add to their ‘lacrosse IQ’ is a goal of mine, to assist them to the next level of lacrosse.
“The best compliment I received was from a NY parent who asked if I would coach their team next year: ‘I love your energy, you are always SO positive.’ Also, some parents asked if PA was a ‘club team’, because they work SO WELL TOGETHER!”
Meghan Murray also scored for NJ while Madison Caffrey scored twice and Danika Swech once for PA.
Baerga Jordan M 4 2019 Clayton Delaware
Bolitho Serena D 6 2019 Princeton New Jersey
Boyle Mackenzie A 17 2019 Little Silver New Jersey
Bulan Faith D 1 2020 New Providence New Jersey
Bunce Hannah M 18 2018 Jobstown New Jersey
Dunleavy Ashley M 10 2019 Ringoes New Jersey
Furlong Mackenzi M/a 3 2020 Denville New Jersey
George Abigail M/a 12 2019 Long Branch New Jersey
Hostinsky Ryleigh A 8 2020 Point Pleasant Boro New Jersey
Lonsinger Maggie M 13 2020 Verona New Jersey
Mccormick Brooke G 20 2019 Hillsborough New Jersey
Mchale Jenna A 15 2020 Bernardsville New Jersey
Mendini Erin M 5 2019 Holmdel New Jersey
Murray Meghan M 14 2019 Little Silver New Jersey
Roark Camdyn D 16 2020 Mahwah New Jersey
Santana Jordan A 11 2018 Egg Harbor Township New Jersey
Schinsky Margaret A 2 2018 Princeton New Jersey
Shields Erin D 9 2018 Holmdel New Jersey
Twill Shannon G 19 2019 Warren New Jersey