Inexperience was not a problem for the South boys’ lacrosse team this year, which finished its regular season on a high note with a 11-9 record and a win over Mercer County Tournament champion Notre Dame.
In fact, the team’s progress has been steady from the beginning, according to coach Matt Foret, who says the team played its best in the final week of the season.
As the Pirates made their way into the first round of the state tournament on May 24, they chipped away at their opponents, including Princeton, which proved to be a challenge for the team this year.
Four of the team’s losses this year came against Princeton, but with each game, South improved. In the teams’ third meeting of the season, the Pirates even sent the game into overtime before eventually leaving with the loss. Against Princeton on May 24, South only suffered a two-goal deficit.
“We knew at the start that we would have some ups and downs with a number of inexperienced players,” he said. South benefitted from vast improvements on defense, which only allowed 25 total goals over the last five games. The defense, led by Josh Lee, held Notre Dame to only three goals, allowing South to win, 5-3.
“Our defense has really improved and is playing well. Josh Lee, a senior goalie, has been the vocal leader,” said Foret. “He has done a great job.”
In addition to Lee, Marty Flately has emerged as one of the best defenseman in the CVC this year. “He matches up with the opponents’ best player, and we rely on him to shut that player down,” said Foret. “He is also very good on ground balls and in the clearing game.”
The offensive improvement has also made an impact for South this season, with key young players stepping up into roles they can carry through to next year. “Chris Clancey, a sophomore at attack, has also shown a great deal of improvement,” said Foret.
Alex Rohrbach, the team’s leading scorer, has been the biggest contributor on offense. He is the “player we go to in critical points of the game,” said Foret. “He has been the leader of our offense all season.”
Bijan Matthews, a senior midfielder, has demonstrated versatility, which has been crucial for the Pirates. “He faces off, leads the team in ground balls, and is one of our top offensive players and a good defender,” said Foret.
Foret sees the progress made this season to continue into next year, as most of the defensive players will return in 2012 and will play together in a summer league. “We put a lot of time and effort into developing into a good defensive team this year,” he said. “It’s good to know that they will be coming back, and we should be able to continue to develop” next year. “We also have two sophomore attackmen in Chris Clancey and Alex Sandgren. We look for them to be much improved in their junior season and emerge as leaders of our offense.”
Girls’ Lacrosse. The girls’ lacrosse teams at both North and South have had stellar seasons, and each have advanced in the state tournaments this month.
For South, the 15-13 comeback win over North Hunterdon in the North Jersey Group IV quarterfinals is the epitome of the determination and strength the Pirates have demonstrated all season long.
Their advancement to the state semifinals is the farthest the team has ever gone in the state tournament. Led by Kelsey Sandgren and six other seniors, the Pirates rallied to come back from a 12-9 deficit in the final 15 minutes of the game against North Hunterdon on May 20. Kendal Borup had five goals, while Michelle Morris scored four, Molly Johnson scored three, and Megan Spencer had one goal.
The success ended on May 24, though, when South fell to Ridgewood, the top seed in the North Jersey Group IV North tournament, ending the team’s season with a great 16-3 record.
Meanwhile, at North, the team tried to stave off Mendham, the top seed in the Group III North tournament, but the Knights ultimately fell 15-4 on May 24. Getting to the semifinals was still an accomplishment for the Knights, who defeated Millburn, 13-10, behind Olivia Harpel’s five goals and Ana Lucia Dellien’s four, in the quarterfinal round. The team finished the season with a 15-4 record.