By Chris Goldberg
TopLaxRecruits.com, Posted 6/13/21
CONSHOHOCKEN, PA – Garden State Elite attack Antonina Chugunov said it usually takes a little while for her club team to regain the chemistry it had the previous summer when a new season begins.
But this weekend Garden State Elite’s 2022 squad quickly began to make connections and find a groove. The result? The team championship at the season’s first club tournament, the Victory Events Summer Rise at the Proving Grounds.
Sydney Sieja (Robbinsville) scored five goals and Garden State Elite avenged its only loss of the tourney by defeating South Jersey Shamrocks, 7-4.
“I think one of our biggest expectations was to work together and work 100 percent no matter what team we were playing,” said Chugunov, an attack from Montgomery High. “Working together was a goal of ours, and I think we did a really good job – especially just in our first tournament and with limited practices – of coming out and jelling.
“I think it usually takes us one or two tournaments to get connected and work together on offense, but we really did a good job of jelling after just one game.”
The Shamrocks won the round robin meeting over GSE, 9-8, in Saturday’s opener. GSE only allowed seven goals while winning its next three games to reach the championship game.
“We were able to really jell by the end of the tournament,” said Shannon Houtenville (Hightstown High), who stood out in goal. “At the beginning I wasn’t sure we would be able to since we only had a few practices.
“I feel like we were more determined to win. Since they hadn’t lost; maybe they came in too confident. We were just coming to play and trying to win.”
Sieja, who said she has narrowed her list of schools to three and will decide on a college in the next month, keyed a four-goal surge which made it 4-1 late in the first half. The Shamrocks got as close as 6-4 with 6:30 to play, but Sieja scored after a Shamrocks card and GSE ran out the clock.
“We were just hoping to connect on the field and take possession,” said Sieja. “As the tournament went along I think we really connected, We settled it and we went out with aggression.
Other High School Champions:
2023, SJ Shamrocks defeated Beast, 12-2
2024 – SJ Shamrocks defeated CLC Pride, 9-8
2025 – CLC Rise defeated Delco lacrosse, 7-6