Phil Anastasia: South Jersey's best teams for 2008-09
Could Moorestown girls' lacrosse beat Shawnee football? Was Lenape girls' soccer a better team than Eastern field hockey? What would happen if St. Augustine swimming met Camden Catholic wrestling?
Could Moorestown girls' lacrosse beat Shawnee football?
Was Lenape girls' soccer a better team than Eastern field hockey?
What would happen if St. Augustine swimming met Camden Catholic wrestling?
Silly stuff, right? But that's part of the fun of sports, asking questions with no answers and then arguing about the answers.
Here's the final Super Seven of the school year, ranking the best teams in South Jersey through the fall, winter, and spring, regardless of sport:
1. Moorestown girls' lacrosse (25-1): The Quakers have not lost a game to a New Jersey opponent in this century.
Moorestown won its 210th consecutive game against New Jersey competition and its 10th consecutive overall state title with a victory over Mountain Lakes in the Tournament of Champions final.
Duke-bound senior midfielder Alyssa Ogle, South Jersey's female athlete of the year, was the heart and soul of coach Deanna Knobloch's team. Florida-bound senior Jenna Hildebrand anchored the defense.
But most of the scoring came from players who will be back for a run at the program's 11th overall state title in a row: Juniors Katrina Martinelli, Jenna Dougherty, and Kelsey Miller, as well as freshman Stephanie Toy.
2. Lenape girls' soccer (25-0): Gatorade national player of the year Natalia Torosian led coach Kevin Meder's team to its second consecutive Group 4 state title.
Lenape finished the season as the No. 7 team in the NSCAA/Adidas national rankings. The Indians have won 34 in a row.
The Florida-bound Torosian was a dominating presence in the midfield. Senior Katie Duffey also was a big-time player for a team that might have unfurled its best game in a 6-1 victory over Moorestown in the South Jersey Coaches Tournament final.
3. Shawnee football (12-0): Running back Chris LaPierre, South Jersey's male athlete of the year, led the Renegades to their second consecutive Group 3 sectional title.
LaPierre set a state record with 44 touchdowns. Kody Smith was a crafty senior quarterback, and seniors Dashawn Cassell and Justin Miller led a sturdy defense.
Mainland was the best football team in South Jersey in October. By early December, coach Tim Gushue's Shawnee team was the stronger squad.
4. Eastern field hockey (25-2): Led by Iowa-bound junior Kelsey Mitchell, the Vikings won their 10th consecutive Group 4 state title and also captured the Tournament of Champions crown. Since 1999, Eastern is 49-1 in state tournament play.
This was a team on a major mission after losing in the T of C semifinals in November 2007 and dropping a regular-season game to Washington Township in September of 2008. Senior Gabby Kozlowski was terrific in the tournament, and goalie Alana Barry finished with 20 shutouts.
With Mitchell and junior defender Melanie Dawson leading a large contingent of returning players, coach Danyle Heilig's club will make a strong run at its 11th consecutive Group 4 state title as well as another T of C crown.
5. Camden Catholic wrestling (26-3): Junior Taylor Walsh and sophomore Matt Sausman led the Irish to their sixth consecutive Non-Public A state title.
Walsh won the 135-pound individual state title. Sausman placed second at 103 pounds. They led a balanced lineup that featured senior 125-pound Trey Pataky and junior 215-pound Wayne Young, among many other contributors.
Pataky scored the biggest individual win of the regular season, clinching Camden Catholic's 30-28 victory over arch-rival Eastern in the Vikings' gymnasium Jan. 5. Coach Jerry Boland's Irish also beat Group 4 state power Southern and topped Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public A state title match.
6. St. Augustine swimming (14-1): If you know swimming, you know the Hermits' 4,745 power points in a Non-Public South A final victory over rival Christian Brothers Academy was some impressive stuff.
Coach Jon Stinson's team was good in December, better in January, and even better in February. Led by senior Ian Keyser and junior Steve Melchiorre, the Hermits routed Seton Hall Prep, 111-59, in the Non-Public A state finals.
7. Lenape boys' basketball (25-9): Never mind December to February. The Indians were magnificent in March.
This team won seven pressure-packed games in a row in the maddest of months. Every one was an elimination game.
Senior Mike Celestin won two games with buzzer-beaters in the state tournament. Senior Pete Dinich made the defensive play of his life in the sectional semifinals against then-No. 1 Cherokee.
Coach Chuck Guittar's team played its best when it mattered most: Beating Paterson Eastside by 20 in the Group 4 state finals, and knocking off Group 3 champion Neptune in the quarterfinals of the Tournament of Champions.
Under consideration: Mainland football (12-0), Glassboro football (12-0), Rancocas Valley boys' soccer (23-1-1), Gloucester softball (29-1), Williamstown softball (22-2), Timber Creek boys' track (5-0), Haddonfield girls' tennis (30-3), Cherry Hill East girls' swimming (10-1).