You could say the key moment of the season for the Ocean City High School girls lacrosse team came April 25 against Shawnee.
It wasn’t the fact junior midfielder Danielle Donoghue scored the game-winning goal in a 13-12 overtime win for the Red Raiders that stood out though. It was how that goal was scored.
She won the opening draw, passed the ball to a teammate, ran down the field and set up about eight meters from the goal. She rolled around another player, received the ball and scored the winner.
“It was the only goal she had that game,” Ocean City coach Alyssa Morrison said. “As valuable as that goal was, it was the possession she had and the draw she won that were more valuable.”
Donoghue is one of the best at taking the face off in the state. The junior has created several scoring opportunities right at the beginning of each possession by being an ace in the draw circle. She also led Ocean City in total points (98).
Her well-rounded abilities are what made her The Press Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year.
Donoghue is most proud of her abilities to win draws, and credits senior Shannon O’Reilly and junior Anna Devlin in helping her gain possession.
“Having the girls I have on the circle being able to help me was a key. It’s something I’m very thankful for,” said Donoghue, of Ocean City.
Donoghue was third in the state with 163 draw controls. She also scored 47 goals to go with 51 assists. On Monday, she was honored as a member of the All-South Jersey team and is verbally committed to play for NCAA Division I Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland.
Aside from being a leader offensively, Donoghue is an excellent defender, which Morrison attributes to the junior’s multi-sport background. She was a key part of the Red Raiders’ team that won a South Jersey title this year and plans to run cross country in the fall. She’s also played on the tennis and soccer teams at Ocean City.
“She’s just a sporty kid,” Morrison said of Donoghue. “Sports are her life and she really tries anything. … She can’t sit still and I don’t think it’s good for her to sit still.”
Donoghue was a huge part in Ocean City’s success this season.
The Red Raiders went 17-2 and won a second straight Cape-Atlantic League championship. They also reached their first ever sectional final, losing to Moorestown in Group III.
“I was extremely happy with the way we finished our season,” Donoghue said. “We made history at the school which was a great accomplishment.
Team and Coach of the Year
Morrison doesn’t just look back at the win against Shawnee as a key moment in Donoghue’s junior year. She looks at it as a turning point on the season.
The win came off the heels of an 18-3 rout at the hands of Moorestown. When the Red Raiders beat Shawnee, they began a nine-game winning streak that gave them the momentum needed heading into a sectional final rematch, which they lost against 18-3.
Ocean City and Morrison are the Team and Coach of the Year.
The Red Raiders finished the year ranked fifth in The Press Elite 11. During their run to the S.J. final, they owned wins against No. 6 Seneca, No. 7 Shawnee and No. 8 Mainland Regional. They also opened the season with a 22-9 win over No. 11 Middle Township.
Ocean City didn’t have a single player opposing teams could neutralize because their offense was so deep, starting with Donoghue.
Junior attack Emily DiMarino led the team in goals (62) to go with 29 assists. O’Reilly had 45 goals and 15 assists, Ashley Devlin had 35 goals and 19 assists, Ali Hendricks scored 28 goals and Anna Devlin (no relation to Ashley) added 27 goals and 19 assists.
The defense was led by seniors Hailey Stack and Mary Kate Tumelty, and sophomore goalie Abbey Fenton.
All of those players stepped up when Ocean City graduated 12 seniors from last year’s team. Many thought they were in a rebuilding year, let alone thinking O.C. would win so many out-of-conference games this season.
“I hate the term rebuilding,” Morrison said. “But if any year was going to be a rebuilding year, I would think it was this one. We did a lot this year by being selfless and playing for teammates. I think that was the key factor.”