For Moorestown, another S.J. title

JMOOR30-- Moorestown HS Lauren Martinell is catching a ball during 1st Half. 05-29-2014 ( AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer ) Game story off Princeton at Moorestown in SJ 3 final in girls' lacrosse, 3:30 p.m.

Marie McCool remembers her first game on Moorestown's field "like it was yesterday."

But it was the game before that game that is lodged even deeper in the minds of Moorestown's sensational senior and her classmates.

They were in eighth grade on May 24, 2010, and many of them were sitting across the field from the benches when Moorestown lost to Shawnee in the South Jersey Group 3 title game.

It was a stunning result - the Quakers' first loss in 228 games against New Jersey teams - that still reverberates through South Jersey's premier program.

"We play for that team," Moorestown senior midfielder Kayla Pruitt said after the Quakers' 17-5 victory over Princeton on Thursday in another South Jersey Group 3 title game.

These Quakers can never erase what happened to those Quakers. But the current seniors have succeeded in their careers in burying that game into the background and beneath an ever-expanding collection of victories and tournament titles.

That's how it works with this peerless program. The seasons run together in a blur of dominating victories, celebrations with championship trophies, and teary-eyed seniors after their last game, each generation carrying the torch passed forward by the previous one.

Still, there are signature moments for each class. For these seniors - who are three victories away from taking their place among the most accomplished in Moorestown history - there was something special about the victory over Princeton, as it marked their final home game.

"We've been counting it down, 'Three games to go, two games to go,' " said McCool, the North Carolina-bound attack who led the way with three goals. "It's definitely very emotional for us to know this is the last time we'll play a game on this field."

Said senior Tristan McGinley, a Virginia Tech recruit who scored two goals: "It's definitely bittersweet. We left a lot of blood, sweat, and tears on this field."

Moorestown is 347-14 with 13 state titles since 2000. So it's not as if the Quakers were in serious trouble after that loss to Shawnee or the setback the next season in the Tournament of Champions title game.

But what's telling is what has happened since that 10-9 loss to Ridgewood in the last game of 2011: 74 consecutive victories.

These seniors haven't lost a game since their freshman season. They are three more victories - starting with Saturday's Group 3 state final against North Jersey champion Mendham at Monmouth - from finishing their last three seasons with a 77-0 record.

"They are all for the team," Moorestown coach Deanna Knobloch said of her nine seniors, all of whom have committed to play Division I lacrosse in college. "Everything they've done has been for the good of the program."

They made sure their last game on their hallowed ground - the familiar grass field with the big tree behind the east goal and those bold black-and-gold Moorestown Girls Lacrosse banners at both ends - was to their standards with precision teamwork and near-flawless execution.

They were patient and unselfish on offense. They were sturdy and supportive on defense. They won most of the draws and gathered most of the ground balls.

After all, they knew a bunch of eighth graders were sitting across the way, paying close attention.

Princeton 2 3 - 5

Moorestown 8 9 - 17

Goals: P-Gabrielle Gibbons 3, Allie Callaway, Emilia Lopez-Ona; M-Marie McCool 3, Melanie Becker 3, Tristan McGinley 2, Quinn Nicolai 2, Adriana Pendino 2, Kierstyn Voiro, Kayla Pruitt, Alex O'Donnell, Sydney Dalmass, Emily Troy.

Saves: P-Mira Shane 12; M-Gabby Cooper 9.



Moorestown's Tristan McGinley talks about the victory.