The recent championships that the Lenape girls' soccer team has earned all rate differently, and the latest clearly receives the highest of grades.
The Indians made more history and won yet another title with Saturday's 4-1 victory over previously unbeaten Haddonfield in the finals of the South Jersey Soccer Coaches Association Tournament at Eastern.
For Lenape, it was a record fifth consecutive championship of a tournament that invites the top 16 teams in South Jersey. That broke the mark of four straight titles set by the Shawnee boys from 2001 to 2004.
This Lenape program is eyeing a fifth straight South Jersey and state Group 4 title, so the Indians aren't easily impressed.
"Sometimes we have good games, and today was an excellent game," said Lenape senior Katie Rigby, who had a goal and an assist and was her usual dominating self.
Lenape had to be good on this day. Even though the final score suggests a rout, the Indians, while controlling possession, had some tense moments against a truly talented Haddonfield team.
Sophomore Rachelle Ross scored on a scramble from in front and Rigby added a goal on a blast from just outside the box to propel the Indians to a 2-0 halftime lead.
At that point, Haddonfield (22-1) had two directions to go, and the Bulldogs decided to fight back.
They got to within 2-1 when Lauren Roberts tipped in a ball from in front of the goal after a long throw-in by Olivia Blaber.
"After that goal, something clicked and we knew we had to take a step up," Rigby said.
Make it two steps, or more accurately, two goals.
The first came in the 60th minute by Courtney Kovac on a feed by Tori Prager and seemed to take a little steam out of Haddonfield. The fourth goal, in the 70th minute by Emmy Duffey on a volley off a Rigby pass, finished matters.
When Lenape is on its game, the Indians appear as if they have sneaked a 12th player on the field. They were all over the place, doubling the ball and creating plenty of offensive opportunities.
Prager, only a junior but already committed to Rutgers, was a force in the midfield.
One of the differences was the composure Lenape showed when Haddonfield cut the deficit in half, with Prager showing leadership.
"We were able to stay calm," Prager said.
Among Lenape's strength is its play down the middle with Prager, Rigby up top, and Morgan McDivitt manning the sweeper spot in the back.
In addition, players such as Shannon Westhead along with Lizzie and Emmy Duffey go after the ball with tenacity. And keeper Allison Johnson had to thwart several Haddonfield chances, during scrambles in front of the goal.
"They come at you with so much speed and skill," said Haddonfield coach Glenn Gess, whose team will meet rival West Deptford in Monday's South Jersey Group 2 semifinals.
Lenape is 20-2-1 and ranked No. 1 in South Jersey by The Inquirer and must face Shawnee in Monday's South Jersey Group 4 semifinals. No. 2 Haddonfield shouldn't lose its ranking on this game.
The Bulldogs showed they weren't overwhelmed, but like so many other teams, they couldn't solve the Indians, either. Not on this day when Lenape was on top of its game.
Haddonfield 0 1 – 1
Lenape 2 2 – 4
Goals: H–Lauren Roberts; L–Rachelle Ross, Katie Rigby, Courtney Kovac, Emmy Duffey.
Saves: H–Kellie Riley 13; L–Allison Johnson 5.
Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or @sjnard on Twitter.
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