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Washington Township advances with 13-7 win over Eastern

After the crowd stopped chanting her name and the congratulations and hugs were waning, Washington Township's Katie Gill stood on the sidelines, looking just as humble as ever.

After the crowd stopped chanting her name and the congratulations and hugs were waning, Washington Township's Katie Gill stood on the sidelines, looking just as humble as ever.

If the senior midfielder wasn't still holding balloons and a bouquet of flowers, it would have been hard to tell she had just played one of the biggest lacrosse games of her high school career.

"Really, I got lucky a couple times," Gill said. "But it was just shot placement, I guess."

She might not be much for accepting credit, but Gill once again came up big when her team needed her most. The midfielder scored six goals as No. 1 seed Washington Township knocked off No. 4 Eastern, 13-7, Tuesday in the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals.

Gill's final goal, with 2 minutes, 21 seconds left, was the 100th of her career and 61st of the season, prompting a team-wide celebration.

"Katie is amazing," said Washington Township coach Sandy Stockl, whose team is advancing to its second straight group final.

"This was the season that we always knew that she could have, and she's just risen to a new level. She's just been working on different moves to the cage all season, she has a real thirst for the game, and that's why she's been so explosive for us."

Christina Brennan added three goals and Erin Waller had two for Washington Township (16-2), which bested Eastern (12-8), an Olympic Conference American Division rival, for the third time this season.

After losing to Cherokee, 13-9, in last year's group final, the Minutemaids said they dedicated this season to erasing the memory of that loss.

Winning a South Jersey Group 4 title "would mean everything," said Gill, a San Diego State recruit. "It felt much better winning this game than scoring my 100th goal today.

"We have a very experienced team this year, we all play year-round, and we just all want this title so bad."

Gill netted four goals in the first half, including one with just a second left, to give her team a 7-4 halftime lead.

But Eastern didn't go away quietly. With 14:36 left, Tori Neill bounced a shot off the turf past goalie Katrina Dargusch, bringing the score to 9-7.

Washington Township called a timeout after the goal, and came out with a rededicated defensive effort.

Junior midfielders Nicole and Megan Tiernan, who are twins, were particularly instrumental in their team's vaunted defense late in the second half.

"We just weren't ready to be bounced from the tournament at this time," Stockl said. "We wanted to make it to the final. So we found another gear, started to collapse a little bit better, and that helped us out a great deal."

Offensively, the Minutemaids continued to take advantage of their opportunities. Gill scored the first of four unanswered goals with 10:51 left.

"I'm very happy with how the team developed over the year," Eastern coach Dave Schlesinger said. "I love the toughness of this team, how competitive they are. Township is the top seed, they deserve to be the top seed, and we hung right with them today."

Washington Township moves on to play Thursday at home against No. 7 Lenape, a 14-12 winner Tuesday over No. 3 Toms River North.

"It's just a great feeling to get this win," Waller said. "Honestly, I don't think you can put it into words how badly we want this."

Eastern 4 3 – 7

Washington Township 7 6 – 13

Goals: E-Mariel Haubrich 2, Taylor Johnson 2, Kaitlyn Ogg, Tori Neill, Cori Allen; WT-Katie Gill 6, Christina Brennan 3, Erin Waller 2, Megan Tiernan 2.

Saves: E-Brittany Read 9; WT-Katrina Dargusch 8.