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Archive for June 1, 2007

June 1, 2007 — A rivalry, now unbalanced

In mid-1995, I traveled to Moorestown, N.J. to watch a girls’ lacrosse game between the home team and Medford Lakes Shawnee (N.J.).

I wasn’t there as a journalist; neither team was in my newspaper’s coverage area. Instead, I went to see good lacrosse. By 1995, the Moorestown-Shawnee game was a must-see — not only in the old Delaware Valley Lacrosse League, but in the entire state of New Jersey.

My strongest memory from that day was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen by a high-school defender. Moorestown’s point, Mimi Sokolowski, used the corner of her wooden stick and her long reach to lift the ball deftly from her opponent’s molded-head stick. She then thundered all the way down the pitch (no restraining line, remember?) to score.

For the past 25 years or so, the Quakers and Renegades have pretty much had a duopoly over the NJSIAA championship. But the last 13 times, Moorestown has beaten Shawnee. The latest was two days ago, an 11-3 win the South Jersey Group III championship — and therein is the significance of the result.

New Jersey is playing a Tournament of Champions format for its state tournament: four teams, playing in tournaments segregated by size, emerge as state champions to play each other for the Tournament of Champions trophy.

There had been speculation that the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association would seed Shawnee and Moorestown so that they would not meet in the Group III tournament. That didn’t happen.

And perhaps that was a good thing: the Quakers built a 7-0 lead at the interval playing some of its best lacrosse of the season while Shawnee wasn’t able to find an answer.

“We couldn’t throw and catch today,” coach Jane Zechman told The Camden Courier-Post. “We turned the ball over way too much. When you can’t keep the ball, you can’t score.”