LOWER TOWNSHIP—JoAnn McLaughlin couldn’t even stay to savor her first playoff win.
The first-year Lower Cape May Regional High School girls lacrosse coach had a wedding to attend, and she was in the bridal party. She rushed off the field with about 10 minutes left in her team’s South Jersey Group II quarterfinal game Friday.
Luckily for her, the Caper Tigers, who had a first-round bye, had the game under control.
Third-seeded Lower beat sixth-seeded Barnegat 17-5 to advance to the program’s first sectional semifinal game.
“It was a really great win,” McLaughlin, 24, said by telephone after the game. “I was so happy with how they played today.”
Lower will play at second-seeded West Deptford on Tuesday.
McLaughlin was an assistant for Lower the previous two years. The players were determined to get their coach her first playoff win.
“I think it’s great for her,” senior attack Devon Blackley said. “It shows her that all of our hard work and her hard work is paying off, and the extra time she’s putting in is paying off. And I think we’re boosting her confidence, too, and seeing what she can do as a coach coming out of college.”
Freshman midfielder Carina Raymond led the Panthers’ offense with six goals and an assist. Sophomore attack Marissa Giancola had two goals and three assists. Blackley had three goals and four assists.
Junior midfielder Jenna Durbin added four goals and an assist, and sophomore Mel Amador made 17 saves.
“We executed well,” said Giancola, 16, of Cape May. “We finished every shot we could. Our defense stopped every shot they could. I’m definitely excited.”
Barnegat opened the scoring on Madeline Schleicher’s goal 6 minutes, 34 seconds into the game. Once Lower Cape May scored its first goal to tie it up less than two minutes later, it seemed Barnegat couldn’t stop the Tigers’ momentum.
Paige Golden, Raymond and Giancola scored within two minutes to put Lower up 3-1. Lower led 7-2 after another four-goal run and took an 11-4 lead into the half.
Amador made some huge saves to keep Barnegat from drawing close again. In the second half, she allowed one goal while the Caper Tigers’ offense pulled away.
“They definitely held back on the hard shot for Mel, and Mel definitely came in when she needed to,” said Blackley, 18, of Cape May. “Our defense was really getting hyped and into the game, which was good. They really limited (Barnegat’s chances).”
Barnegat 4 1—5
Lower Cape May 11 6—17
Goals—Quinn (2), Ferrigno (2), Schleicher B; Raymond (6), Durbin (4), Blackley (3), Giancola (2), Golden, Boyle LCM.
Goalies—FurrUle (5) B; Amador (17) LCM.
Records—Barnegat 8-8, LCM 12-4.