BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, N.J. - Quick reflection on a great season usually isn't done when the season ends abruptly, so it might take a few days for the Shawnee girls' lacrosse team to appreciate fully the events of this breakthrough spring.

The players didn't reflect on the season right after it concluded with Friday's 12-6 loss to West Morris Mendham in the NJSIAA state Group 3 championship at Ridge High.

Ranked No. 1 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, Shawnee finished 20-2, and its season will be defined by Monday's historic 7-6 victory over Moorestown in the South Jersey Group 3 final.

One could argue that was the most significant win in recent South Jersey history, since Moorestown had gone 228 games without losing to a team from the Garden State.

That was Monday, which now seems so long ago.

To their credit, the Shawnee players didn't buy into the letdown theory.

"We were really excited by the Moorestown win, but put it behind us and were focused on this game," said Kristin Mutch, one of two senior starters in the state final.

There were other reasons why Shawnee could have been less than its best.

The game originally was scheduled for Thursday, but was called off because of excessive lightning. So Shawnee had to make a two-hour bus ride each way, two days in a row, while Mendham had a short trip.

In addition, Shawnee was without standout defender Katie Cahill, who missed the game because of illness.

Then again, Mendham (22-1) was missing a few key players because of disciplinary measures, and the Minutemen didn't miss a beat.

So forget the excuses.

Mutch probably offered the best reason for the loss.

"Mendham is an amazing team and deserves it," she said.

That's a mature perspective from someone who has experienced the gamut of sports emotions within a week.

Things actually started well for Shawnee. On goals by Karlee Dean, Kristin Kocher, Alexis Newman and Becky Stiles, the Renegades led, 4-2, about 10 minutes into the game.

Mendham then scored the final five goals of the first half and the first five of the second.

Few teams can rebound after the opponent scores 10 consecutive goals.

"We started out well, then fizzled and never got it back," Shawnee coach Janae Zechman said.

It's interesting how that the win over 10-time defending Tournament of Champions champ Moorestown reverberated throughout the state.

"We were shocked when we heard they beat Moorestown, and we realized that we'd have to play even harder to stay on the field with them," Mendham sophomore Aly Messinger said.

Messinger was most responsible for her team walking off with the state title. She scored six goals, as many as Shawnee.

Mendham has a lot of young players and will be back next year - not to mention that the Minutemen should make noise in next week's Tournament of Champions.

Shawnee, with most of its team back, also will be heard from.

"This isn't the end of Shawnee lacrosse," said Grace Moran, the Renegades' other senior starter in the state final. "The girls on this team are phenomenal."

The future looks so bright. In time, looking back on the past should bring smiles for the Renegades after this season of incredible accomplishment.

Shawnee   4 2 – 6

Mendham   7 5 – 12

Goals: S-Karlee Dean, Kristin Kocher, Alexis Newman 2, Becky Stiles, Kierstan Smith; M-Aly Messinger 6, Gio Padavano 3, Maggie Sinzer, Meade Brewster 2.

Saves: S-Alex Zaugra 5; M-Abby Witczak 6.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.