MIDDLETOWN, N.J. — The Moorestown girls’ lacrosse team dressed in full uniform all day at school on Wednesday.
They described the hour-plus ride to the game as raucous and loud, with music blaring. The adrenaline, they said, was building to a frenzy.
They said this was the game they had dreamed about since they were little girls. And by the look in their eyes, it was clear they weren’t speaking in cliches — they literally have visions, in their sleep, of winning the Tournament of Champions.
So, yes, when the game started, they pounced.
The Quakers jumped on Haddonfield, using a fast start to help seal a 13-3 win in the Tournament of Champions semifinals at Middletown South High School on Wednesday night.
With the win, Moorestown advances to the ToC finals for the first time since 2014 — an eternity by Moorestown standards. The Quakers will meet Group 4 champion Ridgewood for the state’s ultimate crown at 5 p.m., Saturday, at Kean University.
“We just had so much excitement,” said Cailin Field, who chipped in two goals and an assist. “This is basically the first time that this group of girls has gotten to the ToC. So, just the crowd, the sidelines, everyone had so much adrenaline, and we were so excited, and it helped us get off to a great start.”
Ava Frantz and Colette Smith led the Quakers with three goals each. Smith added four assists.
Kayla Frank scored the game’s first goal just 33 seconds into the first half.
The floodgates were open.
Within five minutes, the Quakers (22-2) led 3-0. Within 12 minutes, they were up 6-0.
They went into halftime ahead 8-0 and never looked back.
“We came into this game with a mindset that we were wining this game, without question,” said Moorestown coach Deanna Knobloch. “We have a great amount of respect for Haddonfield — we’re proud of two South Jersey teams making it as far as we did — but this group of seniors was ready to get to the ToC [finals] this year. And they were going to do everything in their power to get there.”
Though there were some gaudy offensive numbers in the first half, Moorestown’s defense stood out the most throughout the game.
The Quakers blanketed Haddonfield from the beginning, and, at times, forced turnovers at will against an offense that had proven to be one of the best in the state throughout the season.
“Obviously, it’s do-or-die at this point in the season,” defender Delaney Lawler said. “And anything can happen if you let the other team get off to a fast start. So, our goal was to get that lead right off the bat and not let up.”
For Haddonfield, the loss didn’t spoil program’s best season.
The team finished with a 21-2 record — with both losses coming to Moorestown — breaking the school record for wins while nabbing the school’s first girls’ lacrosse state championship.
“It was a great season,” said Bulldogs coach Jess Blake. “Our goal was the state championship. It was a phenomenal season. I’m proud of them.”
Moorestown 8 5 — 13
Haddonfield 0 3 — 3
Goals: Ava Frantz 3, Cailin Field 2, Kacey Knobloch, Colette Smith 3, Robin Panzarella 2, Kayla Frank 2; H- Jaime McCormick, McKenzie Blake, Ashley Campo.
Saves: M- Logan Lillie 3; H- Olivia Conquest 7.