When his teammates heard Chris Furz called over for a postgame interview with reporters, they cheered a bit and smiled, and some looked just as surprised as the player himself.
It was clear this hasn’t yet become a regular occurrence for Furz.
Furz — wearing a big grin and looking every bit the sophomore he is — was a fitting symbol of not just his team but also the resiliency of his Moorestown boys’ lacrosse program.
“I don’t know what to say, really,” Furz said after winning 10 of the game’s 13 faceoffs in the Quakers’ workmanlike, efficient 8-5 win over rival Shawnee at home on Saturday in the South Jersey Group 3 championship game.
“I came out having fun,” said Furz, who was on the freshman team last year. “We just had a great time today.”
This was Moorestown’s third South Jersey title in a row. Since sectional tournaments started in boy’s lacrosse in 2013, Moorestown has appeared in every championship game and won four. Three of those wins — and two losses — were against Shawnee.
“We’ve been playing against these kids our whole lives — we’ve always been rivals — it just makes it that much more special,” said senior Trevor Jones, who netted two goals.
Last year’s Quakers were a veteran-heavy, run-and-gun team that would overwhelm opponents with speed and athleticism.
This year’s team features new faces all over the field. They’re younger, less experienced with a different attitude and a slower and more deliberate style of play.
But the results are the same.
“We’ve been young all year, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re starting to put it together,” coach Baron Walenhurst said. “I was really proud of the way we played today.”
Sean Carden and Jones paced Moorestown (16-5) with two goals each — neither player appeared in the box score in last year’s sectional title game.
Though a senior and one of the more experienced players on the team, Jones moved to attack from the midfield this year.
“We’re a whole different team this year,” Jones said. “We’re a much more settled offense — but we’re playing well right now.”
Saturday, Jones was a key piece to holding off a Shawnee team that wouldn’t go away despite a big disadvantage in time of possession and several costly turnovers.
Shawnee (16-4) was led by two goals each by Tom Shinske and Bailey Pringle.
The teams traded goals for most of the game until Moorestown finally pulled away in the fourth quarter, scoring the period’s first three goals to take an 8-4 lead.
Before that, most of Moorestown’s best chances to break the game open were stopped by Shawnee goalie Dan Falzone, who recorded 14 saves in a stellar performance.
“Moorestown capitalized on our turnovers, and unfortunately we did not capitalize on theirs,” said Shawnee coach Tim Gushue. “This game,” he added, “is all about possession. So give credit to them.”
Moorestown moves on to the state semifinals, where it will try to defend its Group 3 crown. The team is inexperienced and won’t be favored. For most of the players, the stage will be new — of course, none of that has really seemed to matter much to this point.
“These guys are coming together at the right time,” Walenhurst said. “We’re starting to jell, we’re starting to see each other. It’s a maturity thing — we’re starting to put it together.
“We’re just hoping we can keep it going right now.”
Shawnee 1 1 2 1 — 5
Moorestown 0 3 2 3 — 8
Goals: S- Gavyn Willson, Tom Shinske 2, Bailey Pringle 2; M- Ben Cantwell, Patrick Colman, Shane Knobloch, Trevor Jones 2, Sean Carden 2, Connor McDonough.
Saves: S- Dan Falzone 14, M- Gene Martin 7.