SUMMIT, NJ - The first half of the Summit High School Girls Varsity Lacrosse Team's Group 2 Championship game against Red Bank Catholic at Monmouth University was, in a word, discombobulated.
Granted, the Hilltoppers went to the break with a 5-3 lead, but the tempo, execution, and overall quality of play was not exactly "Summit-esque". The Hilltoppers were a bit nervous, frustrated by the Caseys ultra-deliberate offensive pace, and were rushing their passes, missing their shots, and not playing the way the normally play, with pace, power, and near-flawless execution.
In addition to tremendous talent, however, Summit is also blessed with an exceptional senior class, one that leads by example and has a way of revving the squad up when needed and, in this case, calming it down when necessary.
In the final 25 minutes of the game, Summit was invincible, scoring 10 goals to Red Bank's none, winning virtually every draw, passing with precision and scoring, seemingly, at will.
Sophomore Sara Szynal had six goals and four assists for a remarkable 10-point game, scoring a Hat Trick in each half. Meaghan Celmer and Catherine Cordrey each had Hat Tricks, and Summit's senior-laded defense shut the door for the final 37 minutes of the game.
The Hilltoppers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in short order via goals from Celmer, Stephanie Ford, and Szynal. It looked like a blow-out in the making, but the three goals shrouded a jittery Summit start that was seeing uncharacteristic, unforced turnovers. Red Bank capitalized on the Hilltoppers erratic play, but to say they did it quickly would be a misstatement.
It was the Casey's methodical offensive that actually seemed to be amplifying Summit's hyper kinetic play. And, ten minutes after it was 3-0, it was 3-3. Szynal scored off a loose ball scrum to give Summit the lead back at 4-3, and scored again before halftime to restore order somewhat. Unknown at that time, the two Summit goals were the beginning of a 12-goal run that would see the contest become a non-contest, and Red Bank not score again.
As if they were a sports car that got a precision tune-up at halftime, Summit came out screaming. Szynal fed Cordrey, then Szynal took a pass from Celmer and it was 7-3. Emily Kalin, off a Szynal assist, followed by Maggie Moriarty finding Szynal and it was 9-3, Red Bank were reeling, and Summit was just getting warmed-up.
Cordrey, a brace from Celmer, Kalin's second, Szynal's sixth, and Cordrey's third goals put an emphatic stamp on the Championship triumph and, as the horn sounded, the players ran to Caroline Cranley, who Head Coach Mike Walsh classily subbed into the game in relief of Kady Glynn with six minutes to go.
"Instead of forcing our offensive rhythm in the first half, we rushed," said Walsh. "We were doing all the things we don't normally do. We had to relax and, once we starting winning draws, things began to flow our way."
Summit enters the Tournament of Champions June 4, when they take on Mountain Lakes at Hunterdon Central High School. The match is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.