When Janae Zechman said nobody expected Shawnee to win the South Jersey Group 3 girls' lacrosse championship, it wasn't the usual coaching hyperbole.
How could anybody expect Shawnee - or anybody else - to stop unbeaten Moorestown, which that hadn't lost to a New Jersey team the entire previous decade?
Yet Shawnee, normally in the favorite's role, showed it could compete as an underdog. The Renegades beat Moorestown, 7-6, to win the South Jersey Group 3 title, snap the Quakers' 228-game win streak against New Jersey teams and their reign as a 10-time defending Tournament of champions champ.
"In the past the girls seemed to get over-excited and I tried to keep it as if we were playing a regular game," Zechman said.
"I told them they had nothing to lose. Everybody doubted us, we only had two senior starters and four on the team and the players bought into it."
It was some selling job by Zechman, The Inquirer South Jersey Girls' Lacrosse Coach of the Year.
Another thing making the season so memorable is that it marked her return to coaching after a year's absence.
After having twins, Zechman took the year off from coaching and she admits it wasn't easy being away from the sidelines.
"It was very difficult because it was the first time since I was 14 that I wasn't involved in lacrosse," Zechman said.
A 1998 graduate of Washington Township, Zechman then played for the College of New Jersey, where she was part of a national championship team in 2000.
After that Zechman was an assistant coach at Shawnee and has been the head coach for three years.
Part of coaching is making adjustments and those came after a 9-8 regular season loss to Cherokee. Following that defeat the Renegades won 11 in a row, including the victory over Moorestown.
"We made mistakes in that Cherokee game, watched the tapes and saw some areas of weakness we needed to work on," Zechman said.