The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ)

ND comes up short in Non-Public A semifinals

- By Dylan Manfre

LAWRENCE >> Things got quite interestin­g as time ticked down in the second half of the Non-Public Group A semifinals. It was an exemplary reason why Notre Dame and Immaculate Heart’s girls lacrosse contest was so intense.

After Sammy Renda scored a game-tying goal for Notre Dame with 17:31 left in the game, Immaculate Heart rattled off three goals in 3:31 from Megan Bizub, Grace Cassin and Julia Marotti en route to a 9-7 victory. It will face top-seeded Oak Knoll in the final on June 12.

It was the second time Notre Dame tied the score. The first came in the opening half when Immaculate Heart was called for a push on Notre Dame’s Casey Fanelli. With two seconds remaining, Fanelli got a free position shot after and evened the game at four.

It was the second of three goals for Fanelli in the loss but her team managed to navigate through the opposing defense and execute efficient shots.

“We really just cleared the space and saw what was open,” said Fanelli, who played in her final game with the Irish. “It was really easy to get open on the adjacent. … even with young players we really showed what we had and came together as a team.”

Immaculate Heart has been known for wielding its defense with an iron fist. Although Notre Dame’s first three goals came off four shots, they did not come easily. At the end of the game, the Irish tallied 12 shots to Immaculate Heart’s 17.

“They play aggressive, physical, tough defense,” Notre Dame head coach Bryan Fisher said. “We had to work for everything. This is a semifinal, Non-Public A and it’s not going to be easy.”

Defensivel­y, Notre Dame goalkeeper Emily Brady defended seven first-half shots from going in the goal and finished the game with as many saves. This was Brady’s first season playing in goal.

“I mean wow. What can you say about a kid who has never played goal until this year?” Fisher said. “This kid is growing exponentia­lly every day and she’s going to be a big leader as a senior.”

Though it was not the result they expected, Fisher was happy with how his team competed in the game against one of the top teams in the state.

“You’re seeing a smile on my face right,” Fisher said. “We threw our best punch today and when you do that you feel real satisfied in your effort. You’re proud of your kids, proud of this program and the school. We took a major step today to show the state of New Jersey that, you know, we can play with the best. We were unlucky in the end. Life’s not always fair.”

During a timeout, one of the Notre Dame assistant coaches told the team “make sure we always have something to chase.” Brady agreed that line was almost a microcosm for the entire season. The Irish were always looking toward the next challenge and it motivated them to play their best.

“Even when we’re up, even by a lot, it’s important to keep pushing through because you never know what could happen,” Brady said. “Especially like today, we ended up tying them … I think it’s really important for us.”

IHA (11-8) 4 5 — 9

Notre Dame (11-4) 4 3 — 7

Goals: ND: Casey Fanelli (3) Gab Skowronski (2) Amelia Eilbacher (1) (Sammy Renda (1). IHA: Julia Marotti (3) Brooke Marotti (2) Megan Bizub (2) Alex Kucharz (1) Grace Cassin (1)

Assists: ND: Skowronski (1). IHA: Kucharz (2) Marotti (1) Bizub (1)

Shots: ND: 12. IHA: 17

Saves: ND: Emily Brady (7). IHA: Sophie Rowell (2)

South Group II

RUMSON 18, ALLENTOWN 6 RUMSON >> Chase Boyle scored seven goals and dished out two assists to lead top-seeded Bulldogs (19-2) past the secondseed­ed Redbirds (16-1) in the sectional final.

Rumson captured the section by beating CVC opposition in both the semifinals and final. Those two games had a combined score of 37-10.

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