Marc Narducci: Lacrosse tradition looms large at Moorestown
Doesn't it always seem to come down to this for the seniors on the Moorestown girls' lacrosse team? The Quakers are in their accustomed position, one game away from adding the most coveted piece of hardware to the trophy case.
Doesn't it always seem to come down to this for the seniors on the Moorestown girls' lacrosse team?
The Quakers are in their accustomed position, one game away from adding the most coveted piece of hardware to the trophy case.
Moorestown (24-1) is on the verge of winning a 10th straight Tournament of Champions title. Only a talented Mountain Lakes team stands in the way.
They will meet in tomorrow's 1 p.m. final at Rutgers.
Finishing as the state's top team for an entire decade is no small feat, and the pressure to repeat yet again is probably 10 times more than it was in winning the first time. Moorestown has won 209 straight games against New Jersey competition.
While nobody is feeling sorry for the Quakers, there are a lot less stressful positions than being a senior and trying to uphold this tradition.
Nevertheless, the expectations come from all areas. The pressure to tenpeat didn't just start this week.
About five minutes after last season's 16-9 win over Chatham in the final, the torch was already being passed.
"Right after last year's TOC game, the seniors pointed at me and said, 'It's your turn,' " said current senior Alyssa Ogle, an all-American attacker headed to Duke. "Every year it's like that and you feel this tremendous weight on your shoulders."
Of course, Ogle and her fellow seniors don't mind doing the heavy lifting.
"It's so exciting because you get to give everything you have in your last season and it all comes down to your last game," she said.
There are rare instances in which a program is so successful that, at times, winning is considered more of a relief than anything else. That is sort of the case for the Moorestown seniors.
"The amount of responsibility and pressure you feel even before the season is great," said defender Jenna Hildebrand, who has a lacrosse scholarship to Florida. "We know we have to lead the team and we can't be the ones who let the tradition down."
The seniors deal with it because they are taught throughout the years that it is their job. The tradition is taken seriously, especially by the others from previous championship teams who have laid the foundation.
"We deal with it because we've been dealing with it for a while, but as a senior, the pressure is so much," Hildebrand said. "It is a lot of responsibility."
Still, the seniors realize how fortunate they are to have the chance to win their final game in a playoff setting.
Ogle is so talented that she has the ability to put the team on her back, and she would if it weren't so sore. Still, she has continued playing with an injury that would have shut many others down. Showing that type of leadership is expected from a Moorestown senior.
This year, there are only five seniors on the roster. The others are goalie Karli Tobin, attacker Lydia Jones, and attacker Samantha Dalmass. So even though this is a team with few seniors, the immense responsibility remains.
"Every year, it's up to the seniors," coach Deanna Knobloch said.
Over the years, the sheer joy of winning hasn't been the best feeling for the seniors. No, it's the chance to turn to the juniors moments after winning and proclaim, "It's your turn."