The celebration wasn’t over the top simply because sectional titles for Moorestown’s girls’ lacrosse team are expected.
That doesn’t mean the accomplishment should be minimized.
Winning a South Jersey championship is something that stays with a student-athlete for a lifetime.
The difference between the Moorestown girls’ lacrosse team and many others is the way the Quakers look at a South Jersey title.
It might be unkind to suggest that a Moorestown season wouldn’t be complete without at least a South Jersey title, but those are the standards a program that has won 20 Tournament of Champions crowns has set.
So the Quakers were clearly happy after Friday’s 18-3 win over Ocean City in the South Jersey Group 3 final.
The players certainly enjoyed posing for team pictures, and maybe as they get older they will realize what an accomplishment it is. But in a program in which being nationally ranked is the norm, expectations are usually high, and there are no apologies.
“The legacy here is insane,” said senior attack Cailin Field, who had a goal and is headed to Notre Dame next season. “At a young age, everyone is so excited to play for this program.”
It’s a legacy that can put some undue pressure on the current teams, but that comes with competing for a powerhouse.
“You don’t want to let down the players on the previous teams,” said Robin Panzarella, who scored all four of her goals in the first half. “We know the expectations here are high.”
In short, that is what the players sign up for, and as this year’s team and many others have shown, they are up to the task.
And the good thing is that the Quakers didn’t take the championship for granted, even though they are looking at the bigger prize.
“This was a championship game, so we were really pumped up,” said Panzarella, who will continue her education and lacrosse career at the University of Pennsylvania.
It’s always interesting how different teams look at a championship situation. Ocean City (17-2) experienced a great season, with both losses coming to Moorestown by 18-3 scores. This was the Red Raiders’ first trip to a sectional final, and coach Alyssa Morrison took a practical approach to her team’s defeat.
“We never made it to this round, and our goal was to get to Moorestown and play this game,” she said.
Ocean City also had a goal to win, and the Red Raiders played hard. But the big-game experience and overall talent of Moorestown was too much to overcome.
This game had little suspense with Moorestown scoring the game’s first six goals and holding a 13-1 halftime lead.
Moorestown’s Deanna Knobloch, who has long been one of the best coaches in the country, substituted liberally.
Even though the Quakers (19-2) had won convincingly in the regular season over Ocean City, Knobloch took nothing for granted.
There were no shortcuts in preparing.
“Anything can happen, and we have learned that in the past the hard way,” she said.
Now Moorestown will face Allentown in Wednesday’s state Group 3 semifinal.
The Quakers will be tested from here on, but they will also do some testing of their own.
No matter what is accomplished in the immediate future, the Quakers have a championship to enjoy.
“We never take winning a championship for granted,” said Knobloch. “We are proud of our accomplishments.”
And yet the Quakers are always looking for more — and why shouldn’t they?
What the players have discovered is winning a championship is great, but competing for them is also exciting.
“Game day, it felt like Christmas morning,” Field said.
It’s late May, and the Quakers are still very much in the hunt for a state title in an unforgiving Group 3 field. This is truly Moorestown’s holiday season.
Ocean City 1 2 – 3
Moorestown 13 5 – 18
Goals: O- Emily DiMarino 2, Shannon O’Reilly 1. M-Ava Frantz 2, Julia Sullivan 1, Ashley Nutt 1, Cailin Field 1, Kacey Knobloch 3, Avery Jaffe 1, Kayla Frank 2, Colette Smith 3, Robin Panzarella 4.