By Ryan Fennell
Red Bank – While one team had to lose both teams and coaches came off the field with something to celebrate after Red Bank Catholic defeated Red Bank Regional, 16-8, in the NJSIAA South, Group II girls lacrosse semifinal on Tuesday at Count Basie Field.
The Shore Conference Champions and top-seeded team in the NJSIAA tournament Red Bank Catholic Caseys will host second-seeded Allentown in the Group II Final on Thursday, and according to head coach Lisa Caprioni, it doesn’t get much better.
“To get a final on your own field, it doesn’t get much better than that. I know whoever we play, the opponent’s going to be tough, but just the fact we have the opportunity to be on our home field playing for a state title, it doesn’t get much better than that.
“No matter what happens, it’s been a truly special season with a great group of kids,” Caprioni added.
On the other side of the field, Red Bank Regional celebrated a successful season having surpassed last year’s run through the state tournament when it was eliminated in the quarterfinals, reaching the semifinal game for the first time since as far back as anyone in the program can recall according to head coach Ashley Schulte.
“This is the furthest this team has been in a very long time,” Schulte said. “I think the nerves were definitely out there with those first few goals that came in, but once we shook off the nerves and came together as a team, we played our game of lacrosse and I couldn’t be happier or more proud.
“Coming to the semifinals was a huge accomplishment,” Schulte added. “To be able to come to the semifinals and hold a team that just won the Shore Conference to only [an eight goal margin], I’m very proud.”
The Caseys jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead to open the game, scoring all three goals within a minute of one another.
Catherine Luick opened the scoring for RBC when she took a pass from Grace Fallon and buried it in the net at 21:48. Twenty seconds later Fallon fed Margaret Rooney for her first goal, and nineteen seconds after that Rooney found Luick to jump out ahead and force RBR to call a timeout to regroup.
The Bucs got on the board seven minutes later on a goal from Murphy Davis, but RBC’s Kaitlyn Cunningham answered with a goal two minutes later to put the Caseys back up by three. Red Bank added two more goals in the first half, both from Clara Osmont, but each time the Bucs drew closer Cunningham answered with a goal for RBC within the next minute of play.
The first half ended with RBC leading 8-3.
RBC’s Maeve Cowley opened the scoring 34 seconds in to the second half with a feed from Fallon to open up a six-goal lead for the Caseys.
Red Bank’s Lauren Flaherty helped the Bucs keep pace in the second half by scoring from behind the net on a wrap around goal and Davis would add the second of her three goals in the game two minutes later, but the Caseys’ attack was relentless and opened up at 9 goal lead with just over two minutes to play in the game.
Cunningham finished the game with a team-high five goals for the Caseys while Luick was in on seven of RBC’s goals, netting four of her own and assisting on three.