Staff Writer

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — The players on the Middle Township High School girls lacrosse team put a deflating loss in their previous game behind them in emphatic fashion.

Coming off a 13-8 defeat to Ocean City three days earlier that snapped a 60-game Cape-Atlantic League winning streak, Middle rolled to a 24-7 victory over Moorestown Friends in a second-round South Jersey Group I playoff game Thursday.

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Senior midfielder Bridget Ruskey scored eight goals and had two assists for the Panthers, who are ranked third in The Press Elite 11.

“It was good to get back into a routine right away (after the loss),” Middle coach Jackie Scuderi said. “We had two really good practices before this game. We had to forget about that loss and move on to bigger and better things.”

Top-seeded Middle (15-2), which had enjoyed a first-round bye, will play fourth-seeded Haddon Township on Monday at home in a sectional semifinal. Haddon Township was a 17-9 winner over No. 5 Donovan Catholic on Thursday.

“We’ve never gotten to a South Jersey final, so if we win Monday, we can accomplish that, and that would be a great goal,” Scuderi said. “We’ve been refocusing the girls’ attention to that.”

Middle got off to a bit of a slow start against Moorestown Friends. Alexis Watson scored twice in the first four minutes to give the Quakers an early 2-1 lead.

That advantage didn’t last long, however. Middle scored six of the next seven goals to go ahead 8-3 with 10 minutes to go in the half and rolled into halftime with a 13-5 advantage.

“We started off very slow, but we realized pretty fast that in the playoffs, it’s one and done,” Ruskey said.

“We started pressing them more into a lot of turnovers, we stopped throwing away the ball, we got some goals and we made some stops.”

Freshman Kira Sides added six goals and three assists. Freshman Maddie Barber had three goals, and seniors Skylar Gentilini and Jenna Herlihy and sophomore Libby Bostard each added two. Herlihy also had three assists. Senior Allison Hunter contributed one goal and four assists.

“I feel like it’s important not to focus on the past and just try to eliminate our mistakes,” Hunter said. “Not that the Cape-Atlantic League isn’t important, but winning South Jersey would be a bigger accomplishment because we’ve never done it. We’re really focusing on that now. It’s what we’ve been working for the last four years. It would be awesome to get there and win it.”

Junior goalie Maggie Slavin stopped 14 shots in goal for Middle.

Watson finished with five goals for Moorestown Friends (7-10).

Moorestown Friends 5 2 – 7

Middle Township 13 11 – 24

Goals – Watson 5, Roberts, Runyan MF; Ruskey 8, Sides 6, Barber 3, Bostard 2, Gentilini 2, Herlihy 2, Al. Hunter.

Goalies – Buck (6), Carter (3) MF; Slavin (14) MT.

Records – Moorestown F. 7-10; Middle 15-2.

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