An ecstatic Cherry Hill East girls' lacrosse team could hardly contain its emotions long enough to be congratulated by head coach Katie Boyle.
When the coach finished addressing the team Wednesday, the Cougars collectively summed up the win: "Third time's a charm," they cheered.
The team had just recorded an 11-9, double-overtime, season-defining upset of a Lenape team that had been riding high after, one game earlier, recording a season-defining upset of its own.
"If we really wanted to show our potential, this was the team we needed to beat this season," said senior midfielder Becca Taub, who netted the winning goal.
"We've already lost in two overtime games this season. So I think we were a little bit more prepared for playing in overtime. But really, we wanted this. We really proved something to ourselves with this win."
Cherry Hill East (7-8) has won five of six, a streak that comes on the heels of a five-game losing streak.
The team earned the No. 10 seed in the Group 4 playoff brackets released Wednesday afternoon. The Cougars have to be looked at as a potential postseason spoiler after an upset of second-seeded Lenape.
"It definitely gives us confidence," said sophomore keeper Rachel Adap, who recorded 14 saves against a potent Lenape attack. "This season has been a little bit of a roller coaster. But if we keep working hard, we'll be able to play our best, and this game proved that our best is pretty good."
Lenape (10-2) was coming off a huge win over conference rival and No. 1 seed Washington Township on Monday. Township had served Lenape its only other loss earlier in the season.
"That win on Monday was probably the best game we played all season," Indians coach Jill McCarthy said, "which just makes this loss even more disappointing.
"But we're still confident that we can beat any team. We just have to come in and play 50 minutes of solid lacrosse."
Playing for a good cause. Sunday at Eastern, the West Deptford boys' lacrosse team and Laxers 4 Life, a charitable organization founded by its coaching staff, will host the first Rival Sunday, a showcase of four top boys' lacrosse rivalries.
The slate of games has Gloucester Catholic vs. Bishop Eustace at 11 a.m.; Cherry Hill East vs. Holy Cross, 1 p.m.; Eastern vs. Lenape, 3; and West Deptford vs. Haddonfield, 5.
The Eastern-Lenape game likely will decide the Olympic Conference American Division race. And the winner of Haddonfield-West Deptford likely will take the Olympic Conference National Division title.
Laxers 4 Life is an organization founded by West Deptford coach Mike Yarusso and assistant coach John Cipriani. Cipriani's son, Ryan, a former West Deptford player, is a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor.
Sunday's proceeds will be donated to Cuddle My Kids, a charity focused on aiding children affected by cancer.
"This event should be something special," Yarusso said.
Coming on strong. Few teams were hit as hard by graduation as the Bishop Eustace boys.
It's been an uphill battle for the Crusaders, particularly on offense, where they had to replace the bulk of a unit that averaged almost 14 goals last year.
But hard work is paying off for the 6-5 Crusaders. Bishop Eustace has won three of four, including a big upset, 8-7, of No. 4 Haddonfield on Friday and an overtime win over a solid Gloucester Catholic team on Tuesday.
"The kids have been listening, they've been executing, and working hard," first-year coach Zach Charles said. "They're putting a lot of time and effort in."
Offensively, the Crusaders are led by senior Tyler Margraf. Senior Brendan Dale has been a force in the faceoff circle, winning roughly 80 percent of face-offs, according to Charles. And senior Matt D'Antonio, in his first year playing lacrosse, is leading the defense.