Farewell South Jersey athletes, coaches, parents, fellow writers and others who have made my five years, five months of covering sports full-time in the area a memorable and enriching experience.
After today, I no longer will be a staff writer for The Inquirer. It's time for me to move on. I have a project that will keep me busy for a year or more and it will occupy most of my time.
The rest of the time? You might see my by-line like this: By Bill Iezzi, For The Inquirer. I'd like that. Hope you do, too.
Mentioned: Burlington County Institute of Technology | Clearview Regional High School | Rancocas Valley Regional High School | Deptford Township High School | Camden Catholic High School | Lenape High School | Glassboro High School | Holy Cross High School | Cherry Hill High School East | Burlington County Institute of Technology | Cinnaminson High School | Haddon Township High School | Gloucester City Jr-Sr High School | Lower Cape May Regional High School | Cherry Hill High School West | Pitman High School | Camden County Technical Schools | Haddonfield Memorial High School | Moorestown High School | Cherokee High School | Mainland Regional High School | Kingsway Regional High School | Shawnee High School | Audubon Jr./Sr. High School | Pennsauken High School | Absegami | Atlantic City | Bishop Eustace | Bordentown | Bridgeton | Buena | Burlington City | Burlington Township | Camden | Cape May Tech | Clayton | Collingswood | Cumberland | Delran | Delsea | Eastern | Egg Harbor Township | Florence | Gateway | Gloucester | Gloucester Catholic | Gloucester Christian | Gloucester County Tech | Haddon Heights | Hammonton | Highland | Holy Spirit | Lindenwold | Maple Shade | Mercer Christian | Middle Township | Millville | Moorestown Friends | Northern Burlington | Oakcrest | Ocean City | Our Lady of Mercy | Palmyra | Paulsboro | Peddie School | Pemberton | Pennington | Penns Grove | Pennsauken Tech | Pennsville | Pleasantville | Riverside | Salem | Schalick | Seneca | St. Augustine | St. Joseph | Sterling | Timber Creek | Triton | Vineland | West Deptford | Wildwood | Wildwood Catholic | Williamstown | Willingboro | Winslow Township | Woodbury | Woodrow Wilson | Woodstown | Overbrook (NJ) | Sacred Heart NJ | Washington Twp.
Florence forward Lexi Smith had been looking forward to breaking the school's single-season scoring record on Wednesday afternoon at home. However, rain led to postponement of the game until Tuesday.
Smith has 46 goals, the same number recorded by her aunt and volunteer assistant coach, Dianne Carey-Stranko, in 1992. Bill Iezzi
Florence's Lexi Smith closed the week with 42 goals on the season by scoring 5 goals against Palmyra on Friday and 5 against Gloucester Catholic on Saturday. The school's single-season record is 46, set by assistant coach Dianne Carey-Stranko in 1992. Carey-Stranko is Smith's maternal aunt.
Florence has a firecracker of a forward and she happens to be the coach's daughter.
Lexi Smith, whose mother is head coach Gina Smith, enters her third season as a starter with 87 goals. The junior already has broken the school's career scoring record of 73, set by Melissa Bond in 1995.
Now Smith is going after the school's single-season scoring record of 46 set by assistant coach Dianne Carey-Stranko in 1992. Carey-Stranko is Lexi Smith's aunt and Gina Smith's sister.
Rancocas Valley, the third seed in Central Group 4, has a better chance of winning the sectional crown than Florence in Central Group 1, even though the Flashes are the No. 1 seed.
That's because the No. 2 seed, on the other side of the brackets, is New Egypt, which has defeated Florence twice this season: 6-0 and 6-2.
The NJSIAA softball brackets have been posted and the top seeds in South Jersey Groups 1 through 4 are as follows:
Group 1, Maple Shade, Group 2, Sterling, Group 3, Pinelands, Group 4, Eastern.
In Central Jersey only one area team is the top seed: Florence, in Group 1.
When Florence lost to Pingry, 2-1, in double overtime in the North Jersey Group 2 quarterfinals on Nov. 1, Lexi Smith’s stick was silenced. The Flashes finished the season with a 15-4 record after going 15-1.
Smith, a sophomore, leads the area in goals scored with 43. However, on her heels is Megan DeMarco of St. Joseph’s of Hammonton, who has 42 goals. The Wildcats are scheduled to play for the South Jersey Group 1 crown on Nov. 8 and DeMarco can take over the lead.
Florence scored one goal in its last three games, two of which went into overtime. The goal was scored by Smith off a corner to give Florence a 1-0 lead over Pingry. However, the Big Blue tied the score, 1-1, in regulation and won in OT.
“We’re usually a strong 77 team [7 on 7 in overtime],” said Florence coach Gina Smith, Lexi’s mother. “We outshot them [Pingry] 13-6, and had more corners. We couldn’t finish, which is uncharacteristic of us.
“We can’t change what happened, but we can fix it for next year. We have a great nucleus coming back."
Meanwhile, Lexi, her mother and her aunt Diane Carey-Stranko, whose single season record of 46 goals is safe at Florence until next year, are preparing to fly to Phoenix , Ariz. Lexi will play for South Jersey Intensity in the U.S. Festival, Nov. 24-27.
While Palmyra tailback Alonzo Sadler was dazzling everyone with his speed and elusiveness against visiting Florence Friday night, his teammate, Nick Cannizzaro, was quietly helping to put away the Flashes.
Cannizzaro, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound wide receiver-defensive back, made a number of key tackles and intercepted a pass on his own 19-yard line to kill an important Florence drive late in the game and preserve a 30-14 win.
The junior also caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Shaun Kuhn to give the Panthers a 14-6 lead at intermission.