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Seneca will need a full-game effort

With the sun shining on an 80-degree afternoon, Seneca boys' lacrosse coach Rob Davidson looked out on his home field for the last time in the regular season.

With the sun shining on an 80-degree afternoon, Seneca boys' lacrosse coach Rob Davidson looked out on his home field for the last time in the regular season.

"We have to be able to play a full game," he said after his team coughed up a second-half lead in a 13-12 loss to Haddonfield on Wednesday.

The loss, in a game that essentially served as a dress rehearsal for the playoffs, hardly tarnished a solid regular season in which the Golden Eagles finished 11-5.

But it was difficult for Davidson not to focus on his team's flaws so close to the playoffs, which will start Saturday.

When asked about his team's goals heading into the Group 2 tournament, Davidson reiterated:

"I just want to see us put a full game together against these North Jersey teams. We have to play those four quarters."

There are no sectional championships in NJSIAA boys' lacrosse - just long, unforgiving trips to North Jersey, a nationally recognized hotbed for the sport.

For most South Jersey teams - even a team like Seneca, among the area's best - a state title isn't a realistic goal.

But as the playoffs begin, an increasing number of teams, including the Golden Eagles, can take solace in that fact that they may be only a couple of solid quarters away from making history.

"I think it's evened up a lot," said Davidson, whose Golden Eagles enter the playoffs as the fourth seed in the Group 2 tournament.

Moorestown is the only area program with a state championship - winning titles in 2001, 2008, and 2011.

The Quakers, the No. 1 seed in the Group 3 tournament, and St. Augustine, the No. 3 team in the Non-Public A tournament, represent the area's best hope to take home a state crown this season.

For most other area teams, the next two weeks are about continuing to close the gap and maybe even surprise a few teams along the way.

"We're excited," said Haddonfield coach Damon Legato, who won South Jersey's first state title as the head coach of Moorestown in 2001. "We see this as an opportunity.

"We want to play every play hard and try to improve as we're on the field. That's ultimately our goal."

Layered rivalry

It's the perfect rivalry on so many levels.

Both girls' varsity programs started five years ago. They're in the same division and same group.

The head coach of one team coached the other team's head coach in college.

And every time, they play, the game routinely comes down to the final seconds.

"The rivalry has really been established over the last two years," said Bishop Eustace coach Kat Burke-Esposito. "And it's taken on a life of its own. It's crazy how we just keep running into each other - it's like every time we turn around we see Haddonfield."

Thursday's South Jersey Group 1 matchup between the fifth-seeded Haddonfield and fourth-seeded Bishop Eustace girls will be the sixth between the teams in the last two seasons.

Haddonfield (12-6) topped Bishop Eustace (13-2) three times last year - including knocking them out of the playoffs.

Bishop Eustace has beaten Haddonfield twice this season - 8-6 on April 10 and 13-12 in double overtime on April 30.

"These are the games that both teams play for," said Burke-Esposito, who played for Haddonfield coach Jessica Blake at St. Joseph's University.