Her team was down by 17 goals.

Her opponent was holding the ball, all but stationary as the second-half clock wound down.

Everybody, in fact, seemed to be waiting for the game to end - except Caitlin Delaney.

Delaney was in a different game, sprinting back and forth across the field. Jumping. Diving. Doing everything she could to pry the ball loose.

When the game ended, Delaney bent over and put her hands on her knees, completely exhausted.

It was the Cougars' worst loss of the season.

"But it was a vivid example of the type of player [Delaney] is," Cherry Hill East coach Katie Boyle said after a 20-3 loss to Eastern on Wednesday.

"She's a leader on the field, she's our hardest worker, and she sets an example that other players follow."

For Delaney, the sequence illustrates her love of the game. It was also a glaring reason she's one of South Jersey's leading scorers (54 goals this season) and headed to play for Division I Sacred Heart after high school.

"When I play, I get this drive in me," said Delaney, who has played lacrosse since the fifth grade and has 162 career goals. "I can't give up. There's never really a time when I don't feel like playing lacrosse. It's a connection I have with the sport."

After a hot start to the season, Cherry Hill East, No. 10 in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings, has lost four of five games, including to No. 6 Clearview, No. 5 Lenape, No. 3 Eastern, and Washington Township.

Delaney plays 12 months out of the year. And as she did all offseason, she has been working tirelessly on her shot when she's not practicing or playing with her team.

"I'm just trying to help the team in any way that I possibly can," Delaney said. "When we play our game, we know we can play with anyone.

"It comes down to staying in the game and . . . giving it all we have 100 percent of the time."

- Chris Melchiorre