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Moorestown overcomes rough start, reaches TofC final

Almost before the ball hit the back of the net, Moorestown girls' lacrosse coach Deanna Knobloch was on the field, calling timeout.

Almost before the ball hit the back of the net, Moorestown girls' lacrosse coach Deanna Knobloch was on the field, calling timeout.

Her Quakers had just fallen into a three-goal deficit midway through the first half of the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions.

Knobloch gathered her team and, as she put it, "I had a moment."

Even those high up in the stands, who only could see the veteran coach scowling as she addressed her players, got Knobloch's message loud and clear.

If Knobloch's intention was to wake up her team, it worked. The Quakers went on to score five unanswered goals in the final 12 minutes, 52 seconds of the first half and cruise to an 8-4 win Tuesday at Monmouth University.

"We came out flat, Glen Ridge came out on fire, and we needed a gut check," Knobloch said. "We needed to say, 'This is not how we play. This is not the Moorestown game - let's pull it together."

"Once we got that first goal, we were back in our game," said junior Stephanie Toy, who scored three goals. "Clearly, we weren't playing the way we're capable of playing early in the game. So we had a pretty intense timeout and that helped."

Moorestown (23-3) moves on to the Tournament of Champions final, Saturday at Rutgers against Ridgewood.

It is the Quakers' first appearance in the championship game since the team won its 10th consecutive Tournament of Champions title in 2009.

"It means everything to us to be back in this position," Knobloch said. "This was our goal, to get back to Rutgers, where we were for so many years before. And now that we're here, I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am of this team."

Glen Ridge (20-6) held possession for much of the first 11 minutes, building a three-goal lead on a free-position shot and two close goals.

But Toy's goal with 12:52 left in the half brought the score to 3-1, and shifted momentum in Moorestown's favor for the rest of the game.

"Obviously, we knew we were going to see an amazing team today," Glen Ridge coach Beth Larkin said. "They're very athletic and very skilled all over the field. We came out strong, but they kicked it up a notch."

Moorestown completely controlled the second half, rarely allowing Glen Ridge a meaningful possession.

Senior midfielder Nikki Shapiro netted her third goal of the game less than two minutes into the half, putting Moorestown ahead by 6-3.

"We just tried not to panic when we got down," Shapiro said. "We just picked it up and played better."

With 4:29 left, junior Lindsay Goldblatt scored, putting Moorestown up by 8-4.

The goal was especially meaningful for Goldblatt, who had been suspended for the Quakers' Group 3 championship win over Mendham after being given two yellow cards in Moorestown's South Jersey Group 3 win over Shawnee.

"We love Lindsay. She's a great player and a big part of our offense," Knobloch said. "We're happy that she's able to play again."

NJSIAA sanctions prevented Goldblatt from even attending the quadruple-overtime victory over Mendham.

"It was brutal for her," Knobloch said. "She was a starter for us all season. So it was tough and she had to text us back and forth to get the play-by-play. So it was great to see her score a goal."

Moorestown   5 3 – 8

Glen Ridge   3 1 – 4

Goals: M-Stephanie Toy 3, Nikki Shapiro 3, Lindsay Goldblatt, Nikki McMonagle; GR-Danielle Lisovicz, Caroline Thiele 2, Sarah Malone.

Saves: M-Bridget Bianco 6; GR-Cara Mulligan 8.