By Phil Anastasia
Shawnee was fire.
Shawnee was ice.
"The last two practices, that's all we talked about, 'Be calm and composed,'" Shawnee coach Janae Zechman said after her team's 17-2 victory over Eastern on Wednesday in the South Jersey Group 4 championship game in girls' lacrosse.
Zechman knew her team would be motivated by twin opportunities: To win a sectional title, and to avenge a 11-10 loss to Eastern on May 9.
The key would be to keep that emotion in check, to combine cool efficiency with relentless determination.
Shawnee (16-2) found the perfect balance on a hot, sunny afternoon on the Renegades' turf field, dominating the third meeting of the season between the Olympic Conference rivals and advancing to face North Jersey champion Ridgewood in Saturday's state final at Kean University.
"They were phenomenal," said Eastern coach Lauren Regan, a Shawnee graduate. "They played in a way that showed them to be worthy of being South Jersey Group 4 champions."
Senior Erin Smith (pictured) scored five goals for Shawnee, while senior Shannon Nugent and junior Caroline Shinske added four each.
The Renegades used their open-field speed to full advantage, with Smith and Shinske repeatedly racing to daylight to create opportunities for themselves and teammates.
"We knew this was finally our opportunity," said Smith, a Rutgers recruit for soccer. "We feel like we were given a gift from God to be in this group because we've always been in the same group with Moorestown.
"We were so motivated. We wanted to come out and destroy. We had that built-up anger."
Smith said the Renegades were determined to funnel that motivation into superior lacrosse.
"We knew we had to stay calm," Smith said. "That's all we kept saying to each other, 'Stay calm, stay calm.' We had to stay composed."
The Renegades also got strong games from sophomore Caroline Farley, who controlled several draws, as well as sophomore goalie Lily Argyle, who made 10 saves.
"Caroline Farley crushed us on draws," Regan said.
Eastern (19-2), which suffered both losses to Shawnee, got both of its goals from Alexa Rubina.
And the Vikings made a bit of a run at the end of the half, cutting the Renegades' lead to 7-2 and nearly scoring another just before the horn.
But Shawnee took its game to another level in the second half, as Smith and Nugent combined for seven goals, Argyle made six saves and the Renegades seemed a step or two faster to every ground ball.
"They played amazing," Zechman said of her team.
Eastern 2 0 -- 2
Shawnee 7 10 -- 17
Goals: E-Alexa Rubina 2; S-Erin Smith 5, Caroline Shinske 4, Shannon Nugent 4, Carly Demato 2, Glade Nugent, Jill Chiachetti.
Saves: E-Brittany Read 7, Erin Gill 4; S-Lily Argyle 10.
Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.