New Jersey 2018

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Re: New Jersey 2018

New postby njbill on Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:25 pm

Moorestown and Ridgewood have met once before in the TOC final, in 2011 when the Maroons defeated the Quakers 10-9. It was a heartbreaker of a game for Moorestown as they had lead or been tied the entire game until Ridgewood took the lead with just under three minutes to play. Back then the Maroons were lead by Sammy Giordano, Sally Jentis, and Kelci Smesko. The Quakers had Steph Toy, Bridget Bianco, and Megan Kelly. Marie McCool started as a freshman. It would be the final game she would lose in her high school career. The game was notable for being the last high school girls lacrosse TOC final ever played on the grass of Rutgers’ Yurcak Field. Many have called for a return to Rutgers. Never say never, but that ship, it seems, has sailed unfortunately.

But enough history. The game on Saturday is pretty darn close to a toss up, I think. The Laxpower computer favors Moorestown by a little under 1.5 goals, but the computer hasn’t done particularly well in the NJ playoffs. Moorestown beat Ridgewood 10-9 at Moorestown back on March 30. They had to score three goals in the last two minutes including two in the final 45 seconds to do so (coming back from 7-9 down). Lillie Kloak went out with an injury with 16 minutes to go in the game. Ridgewood outscored Moorestown 5-4 after that. The Maroons have added middie Jackie Wolak to their lineup since then. The Quakers now have Logan Lillie between the pipes. How will these additions affect the game on Saturday? I’ll let you know at about 7 p.m.

Both goalies are capable of having “stand on her head” games. Kara Rahaim had one last year when Ridgewood thrashed Moorestown 11-2. Lillie has played exceptionally well in the playoffs this year. If both goalies have great games, we may get to see how many OTs the NJSIAA will allow. Oh, wait. We already know. The NJSIAA rules only permit four three minute overtime periods. (They call it two six minute periods, but effectively with sudden death, it’s more precise to say the game can only go to four three minute OT periods.) If the game is still tied after that, co-champions are declared. Why the “co-champions” rule was ever implemented is beyond me. Who wouldn’t want the game played out until there’s a winner? With the recent implementation of sudden death, the chances of a game being tied after four three minute periods are diminished, but I saw a game this year (VISAA finals) that went to the fourth three minute OT period. IMHO, the NJSIAA should abolish this NJ-specific modification to the US Lacrosse/NFHS rules.

Both teams’ defenses are playing well at this point. The Quakers’ D has significantly improved over the course of the season and has been awesome in the playoffs, allowing an average of 2.5 goals per game. By now, Moorestown is well acquainted with Ridgewood’s backer defense, but it is still one tough nut to crack. Each team has a great goalie. Both teams have multiple players on offense who are capable of scoring two or more goals in a game. Moorestown played an excellent game against Haddonfield yesterday. The Maroons had a strong game against Oak Knoll, especially in the second half. In the regular season game in March, Moorestown won the draw 11-10. I expect the draw will be close to 50/50 on Saturday. Turnovers could be big. If both teams turn the ball over a lot, as happened in the Moorestown/Summit game, this factor probably will be a wash. But if one teams turns the ball over a lot more than the other, that could be fatal. First team to ten wins? Maybe. I think the winning team will score around ten goals, perhaps give or take a couple. No surprise, I am predicting a close Quaker victory by, say, one or two goals. Hard to see a margin much larger than that. So I think Moorestown will win and lovenjlax thinks Ridgewood will. Gee, who would have guessed?
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Re: New Jersey 2018

New postby lovenjlax on Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:06 pm

You are an amazingly objective Mtown "homer" with your analysis over the years, I love your hopeful optimism on game picks. I am also a huge Mtown fan due to the Quakers outstanding coaching and the culture of the program developed by that coaching. Unparalleled excellence over the last 20 years. However the sport/North Jersey caught up to them (and passed them) over the last decade and but for the Marie McCool years, their last TOC crown would be 2009.

While my heart hopes to get back a little of the old glory days for Mtown, my head says Ridgewood wins this. Both teams have not been on top for a few years (Ridgewood got closer in 2015-6) with an amazing/talented Ridgewood losing to an outstanding BR team in group 4 semis last year. NJ was amazingly strong out-of-state last year...this year not so much. Ridgewood still smarting from last year and from losing the earlier match-up with Mtown this year in a game they should have won. Extra psychological edge to them. Remember Oak Knoll beat BR in regular season last year and lost in TOC.

As far as the "new" players Mtown has suffered from inconsistent goalie play since the 2013 TOC. They plugged that hole with their new goalie who didn't play in the first game . Ridgewood will have its own transfer available tomorrow and their best player will play the whole game. I see these players as a "push" although any hot goalie can be the difference maker for either team.

Due to Mtown's higher seeding, two south jersey officials will have this game (and one north) . Ridgewood will have to adjust its play as the North officials tend to "let them play" a bit more than the South. I don't see this as an issue. Let's hope the game is not impacted by weather as the 5 pm start is tough on the players and then adding lightning delays can be draining.
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Re: New Jersey 2018

New postby njbill on Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:45 pm

Moorestown 14 Ridgewood 9
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Re: New Jersey 2018

New postby njbill on Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:49 pm

Every championship is special, unique in its own way. None are identical. Each one includes different players, different opponents, different games. Moorestown's first title in 1978 isn’t the same as its second in 1983. Ten in a row is an historic accomplishment unlikely to be matched. Championships achieved during the era of a truly extraordinary player have their own distinction. Yesterday’s is special in at least two other ways. First, it comes after a few years in which the program has taken some pretty severe body blows from in-state competition from THE NORTH. Second, this championship bonds (and binds) coaches/parents with a player/daughter, creating an indelible lifetime memory. The most special of them all? I would think so.

Much has been said about South vs. North and which section is catching up and who is passing whom. The last decade was all Moorestown (literally so as the Quakers didn’t lose a game to Jersey competition during that decade). This decade has been more of a mixed bag with teams that have true stars or collections of great players rising to the top for a bit and then falling back to the pack (the pack defined as the top echelon of teams in the state) after they have graduated. When you have a Kelci Smesko or a Marie McCool or a Sara Syznal or an Ali Baiocco or an Ally Mastroianni, your team will be really good. Is that how things will be in Jersey from now on? Who knows? Who can predict “forever?” But it looks like that’s how it will be for the foreseeable future.

Up until about ten years ago, the Ridgewood-Moorestown history had been all Moorestown. But in 2008, the Maroons came down to Moorestown and played on what was then a new town turf field. They lost 14-8, but my recollection is the game was closer than the score indicated. It also was a decided shift from the previous year’s 17-4 thrashing. It was the first time I recall taking notice of the Maroons. The game the following year was played in a cold, steady rain in early April up at a park field in Ridgewood. Moorestown won 10-6, but it was a pretty tough game. I remember seeing elementary aged rec girls coming off the field before the “big girls” game. Hmm, I thought. There is some serious dedication to the sport in this town. In 2010, Ridgewood lost 10-9 on Moorestown’s famous grass field. And that was a darn good Quaker team. Top ten nationally. Best in the state that year, I think, notwithstanding the historic loss to Shawnee against a white-hot goalie. Then in 2011, the dam broke. Ridgewood beat Moorestown in the regular season and again in the TOC final in a game lovenjlax thinks Moorestown should have won. (Sorry, love, couldn’t resist.) Moorestown won the next three years, 15-10, 15-8, 10-7, but the Maroons ended the Quakers three plus year winning streak in an OT game in 2015, another game lovenjlax thinks Moorestown should have won. That game started a three game winning streak for Ridgewood, ending in what would be the nadir of the teams’ history (from the Quaker perspective) in last year’s 11-2 thumping in which Moorestown didn’t score until about six minutes left in the game. Ouch! That one left a mark. This year’s regular season game was a thrilling back and forth one goal affair in which each team had a strong chance to win.

Now, to yesterday’s game. Moorestown had looked like the best team in the state on Group finals day and in the TOC semis. But looking like the best and being the best are two different things. To be the best, you have to prove it between the white lines, or the orange lines, or whatever confounding color they paint these multi-purpose fields these days. Moorestown (Knobloch) got on the board first at 21:56, and then scored two more (Frank and Field) to lead 3-0 at 13:18. Moorestown was controlling, but not dominating the play, at this point. Logan Lillie in goal started out very strong, turning away some pretty good Maroon opportunities. But you knew Ridgewood would come back. They always do. Except I didn’t quite expect them to put up a field goal in 1:02. Bang, bang, bang (Macolino, Scala, Kloak). And the game was tied at 10:07. Was this the beginning of a longer Maroon run to turn the tide in the game? No. Moorestown responded with two in a row (Frank and Panzarella) to go back up by two, 5-3 at 6:37. Less than a minute later, Wolak scored what would be her first of four on the day. It seemed that that was how it was going to be in the game. Back and forth. Forth and back. Nutt put the Quakers back up by two at 3:12. Then Frank scored with 1.8 secs on the clock to give Moorestown a three goal lead at the break. Often these last second goals before halftime seem like they will be huge in the game, as this one did. Just as often, they turn out to be somewhat inconsequential, as was the case yesterday. In any event, a three goal halftime lead is better than a two goal lead.

In the early part of the first half, Ridgewood was killing Moorestown on the draw, at one point leading 6-1 in that stat. The Quakers righted the ship to a degree, closing the gap to 7-5 at the half. (I thought the (meaningless) final draw of the half was controlled by Moorestown before the horn, but it was pretty darn close.)

11 seconds into the second half, Kayla Frank drew a yellow card. Rut roh. The Maroons scored two while she was out (Derrico and Wolak), though only one was when Ridgewood was man up as the Maroons had drawn their own yellow with 20 secs left in the half. So it’s now 7-6 Moorestown at 23:03. Anybody’s game. But as they did all day, Moorestown responded to the Maroons’ surge, scoring the next two goals (Field and Panzarella) to go ahead 9-6 at 18:19. Jackie Wolak answered at 15:48 to cut the lead to two.

Then Frank (who will be wearing a different number next year) drew her second yellow at 11:49 and Wolak converted a free position two seconds later to make it 9-8. To me, this was the only time the game felt in possible danger. Frank has been Moorestown’s best field player (and co-best player with Lillie) in the playoffs. To lose her at this point in the game was unsettling, to put it mildly. (I don’t get a vote, but it says here Frank should be POY in New Jersey this year.) Ridgewood knows all about having your best player card out as it happened to Katie Bourque in the TOC semis in 2015 (the infamous “stickgate” game) and in the TOC finals (which went to OT) in 2016. Both games were against Summit.

Fortunately, the Moorestown players responded to Frank’s departure much better than I did. They went on an astounding five goal run, providing yet another example of that psychological phenomenon whereby the other players lift their games when the star goes out. 45 seconds later Arvelo (in disguise) scored a huge goal to stop the Maroons two goal mini-run. Thirty seconds after that Knobloch put the Quakers up by three, 11-8 at 10:33. Nice lead. Pretty comfortable, but still a LOT of game was left. To me the cincher was Panzarella’s tally at 6:23 which gave Moorestown a four goal lead. While the game wasn’t over, it felt in hand at this point. Knobloch scored two more (catastrophe insurance) goals at 1:36 and 1:02 to extend the Quaker lead to six. Bracken closed out the scoring with 30 secs left to make the final score 14-9.

I had draws 8-5 Moorestown in the second half (13-12 Quakers in the game). Another huge factor in the post-Frank portion of the game was Panzarella on the draw circle. She won the draw following Wolak’s free position goal after Frank carded out, and then collected the next four (five in a row in the last 12 minutes of the TOC final!) (one was awarded on a foul by Ridgewood on Knobloch as she was scoring) to allow Moorestown to dominate possession and give them chances to score during this critical end game phase.

Moorestown has always prided itself on its defense and the D yesterday lived up to expectations. Tough, hustling, aggressive. Frank, Delaney Lawler, and Rylee Brown warrant special mention. Lillie had another strong game in goal. She has been huge in the playoffs for the Quakers. Moorestown did have a lot of trouble containing Jackie Wolak. She was simply too quick, too crafty, and too good a shot maker. She is as good as advertised.

I said before the game I thought the winner would score about ten goals. I underestimated the Quaker offense, which had arguably their best game of the season, considering the competition. The Moorestown offense, by and large, did a good job moving the ball against Ridgewood’s tough backer defense. There were some turnovers, not a lot, but that’s to be expected against a good defensive team like the Maroons. With a couple of exceptions, I thought the Quakers generally took good shots. Rahaim is an excellent goalie (first team Allstate, I think, if the powers that be deem that Lillie didn’t play enough games to qualify; otherwise, she gets it) who will eat up junk thrown at her so you have to be disciplined in shot selection and precise in shot location. The Moorestown seniors lead the way. Kacey Knobloch had four goals and an assist on the day. She scored her team’s first and last goals. The first goal in a TOC final is huge. It gets the team off on the right footing and it puts the opponent behind the eight ball. Her second goal was also big, putting the Quakers up 11-8 with 10:33 to go in the game. She may be one of the few players in the state who appears to have Rahaim’s number. Last year Knobloch scored the only two goals (on Rahaim) when Ridgewood hammered Moorestown 11-2. And she was a settling force on the draw for a good portion of the game. Panzarella had three goals. Cailin Field scored twice and had an assist. Ava Frantz had three assists. For the underclassmen, Frank had three big first half goals. Nutt and Arvelo also scored.

Here is how the scoring went (with apologies for any errors):

First half

1-0 M (Knobloch) 21:56
2-0 M (Frank) 14:23
3-0 M (Field) 13:18
3-1 R (Macolino) 11:09
3-2 R (Scala) 10:46
3-3 R (Kloak) 10:07
4-3 M (Frank) 7:45
5-3 M (Panzarella) 6:37
5-4 R (Wolak) 5:45
6-4 M (Nutt) 3:12
Yellow card on R (Scala) 0:20.5
7-4 M (Frank) 0:01.8

Second half

Yellow card on M (Frank) 24:49
7-5 R (Derrico) 24:07
7-6 R (Wolak) 23:03
8-6 M (Field) 21:27
9-6 M (Panzarella) 18:19
9-7 R (Wolak) 15:48
Yellow card on M (Frank (2)) 11:49
9-8 R (Wolak) 11:47
Yellow card on R (Wolak) 11:35
10-8 M (Arvelo) 11:01
11-8 M (Knobloch) 10:33
12-8 M (Panzarella) 6:23
13-8 M (Knobloch) 1:36
14-8 M (Knobloch) 1:02
14-9 R (Bracken) 0:31.1


M: Knobloch 4, Frank 3, Panzarella 3, Field 2, Arvelo 1, Nutt 1
R: Wolak 4, Bracken 1, Derrico 1, Kloak 1, Macolino 1, Scala 1


M: Frantz 3, Field 1, Knobloch 1, Smith 1
(Sorry, Maroon fans, I didn’t keep track of Ridgewood assists.)

Draw controls

Moorestown 13
Ridgewood 12

M: Frank 5, Panzarella 5, Field 1, Frantz 1, Nutt 1
R: Kloak 4, Roxas 4, Wolak 4

Congratulations to Moorestown on its 21st NJ state title.
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Re: New Jersey 2018

New postby lovenjlax on Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:49 pm

Tremendously important and impressive performance by Mtown on Saturday. This win was more impressive than in years past due to the absence of the true "superstar" player. This win was truly a team effort with more disciplined shot selection and "togetherness", something that has been lacking the last few years. That mindset starts at the top; I'm also glad the coaches were able to share the moment with their senior daughter.

Congratulations to the Quakers and for NJBill for correctly picking the Quakers (again). I know somewhere out there you have an algorithm more accurate and complex than the rocket scientists who put together laxpower. (they really ARE rocket scientists) Have a great summer everyone.
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Re: New Jersey 2018

New postby TrickyOne on Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:53 pm

"Then Frank (who will be wearing a different number next year) drew her second yellow at 11:49 and Wolak converted a free position two seconds later to make it 9-8."

Bill, are you speculating or has the number been offered? It used to be that the number was passed on by the graduating senior at the team banquet in the form of a note which included the genealogy of those who wore it previously. Is that not the case now?
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Re: New Jersey 2018

New postby njbill on Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:33 am

Just my prediction. Nothing official yet.
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Re: New Jersey 2018

New postby njbill on Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:04 pm

The NJSIAA girls lacrosse committee held their post-season meeting on Tuesday. The most important decision they made is that the current playoff structure will be maintained for two more years. So, no Non-Public Group until at least 2021. It sounds like their consideration of adding a Non-Public Group is progressing, albeit at glacial speed. It was noted that girls lacrosse is the last NJSIAA sport that doesn't have a separate Non-Public Group. They handed out a document at the meeting explaining how the playoff structure would look with a Non-Public Group added. The handout was not made part of the minutes published on the website. They would go back to North and South sections for Groups 1-4 and add North and South sections for the Non-Public Group. I imagine the structure would be quite similar to what existed before North was split into North 1 and 2 and South was split into Central and South, with some tinkering likely required of the NJSIAA bean counters and geographers after the non-publics are pulled out of Groups 1-4. Certainly some public schools would change Groups and/or possibly get moved from South to North or vice versa. This change would also mean eliminating the state Group semifinal round, which has existed the past two years. The minutes say that the change would reduce the number of teams making the playoffs from 180 to 160.

Maybe it was on the secret handout, but there was no mention in the minutes of whether they would split up the Group finals since there would be five if a Non-Public Group were added. Different days? Different locations? Also, no mention of how the TOC would work. Presumably the TOC would be seeded using Laxpower rankings on the cut-off date, as is currently the case. I would guess seeds 4 and 5 would have a play-in game. Would that be on Monday following Group finals on Saturday followed by TOC semis on Wednesday? Don't know. A couple of logical alternatives would seem to present themselves.

The minutes also state that the committee "strongly recommends" that sectional finals be on turf fields in 2019. Turf fields for this round will be mandatory in 2020.

Lastly, and why this had to be discussed or included in the minutes is beyond me, the committee noted that there were no issues with the music played at Kean U. or the other sites. Hey, I have an issue; I'd like to pick some songs, but they didn't ask me, and there is only a 0.1% chance my selections would be acceptable to the players.

Here is a link to the minutes: ... inutes.pdf
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