The tension was palpable.
Lenape and Bridgewater-Raritan were all knotted up, 0-0, at intermission of the girls' NJSIAA Group 4 state championship soccer game at the College of New Jersey.
Lenape, which lost the big game in 1998 and 2000, needed someone to step up, someone to etch this team in the Indians' history books.
That someone was Lindsey Walsh.
The senior center midfielder rocketed a shot from 25 yards into the opposing net 3 minutes, 28 seconds into the second half. Walsh, Lenape's only four-year starter, assisted on two more second-half goals, guiding the Indians to a 3-0 victory and their first state soccer championship.
For her outstanding efforts throughout the season and in the state tournament, Walsh is The Inquirer's 2007 girls' soccer player of the year in South Jersey.
"We knew we had to come out and set the tone in the second half," said Walsh, a quad-captain with seniors Jen Pfeiffer, Sara Hancock and Kelsy Andrade. "To go out with a state championship is almost more than you can ask for."
Walsh and the Indians had vowed to make history in every pregame battle cry this past season. She set the tone with a relentless work ethic and superior skill.
And when she registered two assists on two set pieces in Lenape's 2-1 win over Washington Township in the prestigious South Jersey Coaches Association Tournament championship on Oct. 28, it established her as one of the elite players in South Jersey.
"When we won the coaches' tournament, we knew that we would go far," said Walsh, who is known for her accuracy during restarts. "I can like aim and place it exactly where coach needs it."
Lenape coach Kevin Meder said Walsh has no equal in that area.
Lenape (22-2-1), which finished as the Inquirer's No. 1-ranked team, and Washington Township, which finished No. 4 after several stints atop the rankings, tangled three times during the season. Walsh and the Indians prevailed twice and tied the Minutemaids once.
Dana Wert, Washington Township's center midfielder, confirmed Walsh is one of the best center mids in South Jersey. Wert, a stopper, noted Walsh's accuracy on set pieces and her extraordinary ability to play offense and defense.
Last season, Walsh scored three goals and recorded 14 assists as a center midfielder. She was named all-South Jersey on a team that lost in a sectional semifinal to Washington Township. This year, the two-sport athlete finished with seven goals and 17 assists.
"Lindsey served the most dangerous set pieces in the state," Meder said. "She absolutely made players around her better. This year she was more vocal in motivating younger players."
Instructing younger people is appealing to Walsh, who lives with her parents, Jack and Maryanne, in Mount Laurel. The 17-year-old honors student plans to study special education in college. She hasn't made a final decision, but St. Joseph's University appears to carry a lot of weight.
Walsh's sister, Lauren, 20, runs track for the Hawks. Their parents are graduates of St. Joseph's. And best-friend Pfeiffer, who lives across the street, is headed to the St. Joseph's.
Walsh, a high jumper and sprinter, says she would be permitted to run track and play soccer at St. Joseph's, which is recruiting her. Maryland and Monmouth want her, too.
"I don't want to give up either one of them," said Walsh, who summed up her soccer career thusly: "We won two Coaches Tournaments, one sectional championship, a state championship and I made the best friends, so it was a very good four years."
The Inquirer TOP 10
Final poll, previous rank in parentheses.
Gloucester Cath. (3)21-1
Washington Twp. (2)18-3-1
Bishop Eustace (5)13-5-4
Holy Cross (7)15-6-1
Haddon Hts. (10)14-5-1
- Bill Iezzi