The Moorestown girls' lacrosse team shook off a sluggish start and a 1-0 deficit to steamroll past West Morris Central, 20-3, and capture the NJSIAA state Group 3 championship yesterday at Robbinsville.
West Morris Central took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Eleni Kozas. After Bridget Callahan tied the score with 19 minutes, 40 seconds to go in the half, Moorestown coach Deanna Knobloch called a time-out to talk with her team.
"I think we had a bit of a [mental] letdown after the Shawnee game" for the South Group 3 championship, Knobloch said. "It's such an intense rivalry between the two teams, and after those games, with all the hype, having a letdown is inevitable.
"At the time-out we told them that the way we were playing was unacceptable. It wasn't at the level to play in a Group 3 championship game."
Heeding the coach's words, Moorestown (22-1) scored six unanswered goals in the next 5:20, including two by Annie McGinley, to take a 7-1 lead.
"We worked as a team today," said McGinley, who finished with five goals and three assists. "We've had our ups and downs this season, but the past few games we've really picked it up. We were all helping each other today - checking well and moving the ball around."
Behind three more goals from Callahan, two more from McGinley and a pair from Virginia Weber, Moorestown took a commanding 13-2 halftime lead. McGinley closed out the first-half scoring with an assist from Alyssa Ogle with 15 seconds left.
Weber, a senior midfielder, was the quiet catalyst throughout the game, playing solid defense and igniting Moorestown's transitional game.
"I think the key today was our transition play," said Weber, who had a hat trick. "We passed the ball around today and everyone contributed."
McGinley, with another assist from Ogle, scored seven seconds into the second half, serving notice to West Morris Central (16-7) that the Quakers were not finished.
With a precision offense and smothering defense that created double-teams all over the field, Moorestown built its advantage to 19-3. With 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Quakers put on a passing clinic, keeping the ball away from the Highlanders, whom they defeated, 20-4, in last year's Group 3 title game.
Senior Mel Trice finished the scoring with 1:17 left in the game as Moorestown notched its 187th consecutive win over a New Jersey team.
The win moved the Quakers, who have won eight straight overall NJSIAA titles, into the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Monmouth University.
Moorestown 13 7 - 20
West Morris Central 2 1 -- 3
M: Bridget Callahan 5 goals, Annie McGinley 5, Virginia Weber 3, Alyssa Ogle 2, Katrina Martinelli, Jenna Dougherty, Winnie Call, Kelsey Miller, Mel Trice. W: Eleni Kozas 2, Jori Procaccini.
State Group 4.