By Jim Hintelmann
WEST LONG BRANCH – It was a memorable doubleheader sweep for the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional lacrosse teams in the Shore Conference Tournament finals last week.
The girls downed rival Red Bank Catholic, 11-7, Thursday at Monmouth University’s Kessler Field, to win their second straight SCT title just two days after the boys topped Southern Regional for their fourth straight championship.
“Our attacks have been great all season,” Rumson coach Amy O’Keefe said. “Our defense has also been strong. RBC was able to turn up their defensive game, but we were able to hang on.
“Our goalie (Anna Babiak) made some great saves for us,” she said. “She made three great stops in the second half when RBC was down by two goals and that helped us a lot.”
The two teams met in a regular season game last month with Rumson winning, 11-5, but this game was much more competitive – despite Rumson winning by four goals.
“RBC played much better this time,” said Rumson’s Bridget Curran, who led the Rumson offense with six goals. “I think they learned our plays better after the first game and we made a few mistakes, but we corrected them.”
Rumson, as it has done to so many teams this season, jumped on RBC early with goals by Nicolette Dunphy and Curran putting the Bulldogs up, 2-0.
RBC, though, battled back to tie the game behind a pair of goals from senior Maeve Cowley.
Curran, who will be playing lacrosse at the University of North Carolina next year, scored a pair of goals to make it 4-2.
“This game was more competitive than last year,” Curran said. “This is my final season and I wanted this game badly. I wanted to leave this field knowing that I played my best.”
Sophomore Cameron Lynch’s goal cut the Rumson lead to 4-3 before Anna Finn answered with a goal for a 5-3 halftime lead.
Curran and Dunphy both scored early in the second half but, once again, RBC rallied with scores from Grace Fallon and Jackie Mauro making it a two-goal game again.
RBC had chances to get even closer, but Babiak made three good stops to keep Rumson in front.
“My teammates helped me out a lot,” Babiak said. “I just had to stop those shots.”
Curran scored two more goals to build the lead to 9-5, and that just about settled the issue.
Rumson began play in the NJSIAA North Jersey Group II tournament with a 16-3 win over Mahwah High School Monday, May 19. The Bulldogs competed in South Jersey Group II last year, but were switched to North Jersey this year.
“It’s a fine line and a battle each year to find out what group we are in,” O’Keefe said.
Curran and Fallon have been friendly rivals all four seasons for their respective teams, and the two will likely continue that rivalry another four years since Fallon will be playing lacrosse at Duke next year.