Ocean City —
It was the “day of redemption” for the Ocean City High School girls lacrosse team Friday when the Lady Raiders beat Egg Harbor Township, according to coach Matt Lane.
Both teams came into the game with 6-2 records. One of Ocean City’s losses came at the hands of the Lady Eagles in double overtime early in April, hence the Ocean City coach’s feelings about the game.
Ocean City came out with a 7-2 record. EHT fell to 6-3.
“I called this the ‘day of redemption’ for Ocean City,” Lane said of the 15-10 victory. “The girls played very, very, very tough. Last time they (the Lady Eagles) won in double overtime at EHT.
“There is something to be said about winning this game and ... taking back our spot in the Cape Atlantic League,” Lane added.
Lady Raider Tess Solazzo had 8 goals and 2 assists in the game. Teammate Megan Devlin had 5 goals and 3 assists.
Despite the high-scoring pair, it takes more than that to beat good opponents.
“You can’t win a game with one or two people, despite what other teams say,” said Ocean City goalie Ann Unsworth. “You have to work together as a team.”
Working together is key. Solazzo and Devlin say the same thing.
In girls lacrosse, an opposing player can take a pass at midfield, sprint through the defenders, blast in on the goalie alone and score, changing the complexion of a game.
EHT’s Melissa Williams and Lexi Badyna, who had four goals apiece in the loss to Ocean City, had that breakaway speed to take their team from defense, to offense, to scoring in a matter of seconds.
If Ocean City didn’t have the midfielders and defenders to stop more of those breakaways, the game could have changed from victory to upset in no time.
Badyna opened the scoring just 16 seconds into the game.
It took Ocean City nearly four minutes to respond on Casey Hanna’s goal at 21:02, but Badyna scored again less than 30 seconds later to make it 2-1.
Less than 30 seconds after that, Solazzo tied the game at 2-2.
EHT regained the lead on Badyna’s third goal at 14:48 and held it for about three minutes, but Ocean City put three unanswered goals on the board – two by Solazzo and one by Devlin to make it 5-3. EHT’s Courtney Eble narrowed the gap to 5-4 a minute later, then Devlin and Solazzo scored again to stretch the lead to 7-4.
Attesting to how breakaway speed affects matchups, in the last 37 seconds of the half, EHT’s Williams scored twice and Devlin scored once to go into the break at 8-6.
Solazzo opened the second half with a pair of goals, tying the school record with her 162nd goal at the 21:48 mark and then breaking the record with her 163rd on a penalty shot with 21:04 left in the half. (The game was stopped for a small ceremony for Solazzo.)
Badyna got the game within reach two minutes later, 10-7, then Ocean City reeled off four unanswered goals by Hanna, Solazzo, Devlin and Solazzo again, to put the game out of reach for good at 14-7. EHT scored three more times – two by Williams and one by Caitlyn Bordonaro – and Devlin scored once for a final score of 15-10.
Echoing her coach’s words, Devlin said of the game, “It’s redemption. It’s a good feeling.”
“It was just like Megan said, complete redemption,” Solazzo said. “We knew we shouldn’t have lost the first time. It was a tough game against tough competition, but we came out here today and we knew we had to do it. We crushed them. It was an awesome feeling.”
And talking about support, Unsworth had it back on defense and the Lady Raiders had it on attack and throughout the midfield with Briana Armand, Nicole Barbieri, Shannon Brady, Sarah Dalsey, Kelly Hanna, Meghan Kelly, Natalie Landi, Abby Lyons and Brooke Zukawski.
The Lady Raiders have work to do with tough teams gunning for them. They handed Millville its first loss of the season the week before. Millville and Ocean City tied for the Cape Atlantic League championship last year.
“We have to keep our composure, stay focused and know that every single game is going to be a run for our money,” Lane said. “Everyone is going to be gunning to take down Ocean City. It’s almost like we have a bulls-eye on our back.
“We can’t forget how we got here,” he added. “It’s teamwork. If we don’t lose sight of the fact that we did it together ... I think we’re going to have a very successful end of the season.”
The Lady Raiders were facing Our Lady of Mercy Academy Monday and were scheduled to host OLMA at 4 p.m. Friday.