Very good high school lacrosse players consider it a successful career if they manage 100 goals.
A few of the most elite players reach 200 goals before graduation.
Ocean City's Tess Solazzo already has hit both of those milestones, and the 17-year old junior still has another season left.
"As a coach, you've got to love it," Ocean City coach Matt Lane said. "She raises the bar for everyone else out on the field, whether on our team or the other."
Solazzo is The Press Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year.
Solazzo was the leading scorer on a Red Raiders team that won the Cape-Atlantic League title one year after sharing the championship with Millville. She had team highs of 84 goals and 50 assists. She also became Ocean City's all-time leader in goals and assists with 208 and 131, respectively.
Lane said leading the team in both goals and assists is a product of Solazzo's team-first mentality.
"You don't find too many players that are looking to make plays happen by assisting as much as scoring themselves," Lane said. "If you were to ask her, she would say that it's more important for us to have the season that we did, and that everybody contributed."
Solazzo, who has committed to play at Ohio State University, is quick to take the focus off herself and deflect it to her teammates.
"Our team is really like one big family," Solazzo said. "With last year and being co-champions, we knew we wanted to have our own title (this year). We knew we had to work hard to achieve that goal, and we said in the beginning of the year we knew we deserved to be champions."
Solazzo said she feels comfortable using her teammates just as much as controlling the ball herself. That type of team chemistry is a key to Ocean City's winning formula.
"I'm confident in my team," Solazzo said. "The chemistry is there. When I pass to a certain girl, I know exactly what she'll do, and it's important to have that. I can see the field really well, so when a girl is open, I'll always get her the ball. I feel confident doing that."
Lane pointed to a 16-8 win over Mainland Regional on May 29 for an example of Solazzo's selflessness. She needed just one goal to reach 200 for her career, but a win would clinch a CAL title for the Red Raiders. Solazzo's first point in that game was an assist. Winning the game was her first priority.
"She's dedicated 100 percent to her team," Lane said. "It's not a situation where you can say, 'Oh, she's got 200 goals. She's a selfish player.' No. There were girls on the team asking, 'Can I please be the girl that assists on her 200th?' Which says a lot, and it shows that she didn't get there herself."
Solazzo is a three-sport athlete at Ocean City. She runs cross country in the fall and plays on the basketball team in the winter. She said she runs cross country mostly to stay in shape and plays basketball because she loves the sport and enjoys being on a team.
Of the three, she said lacrosse is her favorite.
"I don't really know why," Solazzo said. "I've been playing since I was in third or fourth grade and I just fell in love with it. The running up and down the field, and it's a great feeling when good things come out of it."
Good things have followed Solazzo. In three years of varsity, Solazzo has been named a Press first-team all-star twice, won two CAL titles, become Ocean City's all-time leading scorer and committed to an NCAA Division I college.
With a year left in high school, there's not much left that Solazzo hasn't already accomplished.
Could 300 career goals be next?
"I've thought about it," Solazzo said of reaching 300. "That could be one of my goals to achieve. But my main focus will be to win another CAL championship."
She paused for a second to rethink her answer and then summed it up:
"I just want to win."
Coach of the Year
The Red Raiders lost 15-14 to Egg Harbor Township in their second game of the season. One conference loss had been the difference in 2011 as Ocean City had to share the CAL title in 2011 with Millville.
This season was different for coach Matt Lane and the Red Raiders. They went on to win 14 straight conference games and the outright CAL championship.
For helping his team stay composed in the championship run, Lane is The Press Coach of the Year.
"We made it our ultimate goal to win the CAL outright, and we did that this year," said Lane, who was in his sixth year as head coach and ninth with the program. "We lost an early game to EHT, and that could have been a season changer, but we came together and never looked back.
Ocean City finished 15-1 in the CAL and 16-4 overall, tying the 2009 team for most wins in school history. The Red Raiders also won a state Group III playoff game, 15-14 over Ocean Township.
"It's not just me. It's my coaching staff and my team," Lane said. "To me, this is one of the most memorable seasons that I've had thus far."
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