LINWOOD — Kira Sides and Maddie Barber wanted to make a statement Wednesday.
That was accomplished, and then some, as the chilly afternoon progressed.
Sides and Barber, both juniors, combined for 22 points to lead the undefeated Middle Township High School girls lacrosse team to a 22-11 victory over Mainland Regional in a Cape-Atlantic League National Division game.
The Panthers improved to 9-0. The Mustangs fell to 4-3.
Sides scored 12 goals with one assist. Barber added five assists and four goals.
“It’s definitely a great feeling,” said Sides, 17, of Cape May Court House. “But I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, and especially Maddie. She is great at getting the ball to everyone. She sees the field so well.”
Sides, who led the state in scoring with 129 goals last season, scored six goals in each half. Barber, who led the state with 109 assists, had three assists in just five minutes late in the first half.
“It’s amazing,” said Barber, 16, of Dennis Township about being undefeated. “I can’t wait to go into the rest of the season and keep winning and keeping our momentum, so that way we can transition in the CAL playoffs.
“We have worked so hard and transitioned so well this season. We had to get out and score the first couple goals, get a lead, and keep going with it.”
Middle coach Tina Prickett, who is in her second-season, always asks Sides and Barber, “What’s going to be the best game I ever see you play?” And Sides and Barber both aim for better performances each game to leave that an open-ended question.
“Aside from the talent being obvious, I think their hard work is very apparent, and there’s nothing more than you can ask for as a coach,” Prickett said. “The effort is always 100 percent.”
On March 29, Middle defeated Mainland 13-12 in its season opener. The Panthers lost their five-goal lead late in the game but were able to score three goals to seal the victory. Since then, Middle has won each game by at least 10 goals, including Wednesday’s rematch against its divisional rival.
“Coming in, we knew this would be an aggressive and hard game, and that they were out for blood because they were so close that last game,” Sides said. “We knew we had to come out strong, get the draws, and don’t stop no matter what.”
The Mustangs’ Casey Murray, who had three goals and one assist, scored the first goal of the game. Julianna Medina, who scored four goals with two assists, scored two straight goals to tie the game 3-3.
Mary McLaughlin later scored to give the Mustangs a 5-4 lead, but then Middle scored 10 straight goals to finish the first half.
Robin Spector scored three goals for Mainland. Ciara Reeves made eight saves.
“We kind of wanted to approach (the game) by playing composed, level-headed and with a lot of heart,” Mainland first-year coach Kelly Klever said. “I just think today wasn’t our day. we didn’t play our game in a lot of different aspects, and you can’t do that against a good team like Middle.”
Mainland next hosts Absegami at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“I tell them every time they step on the field, it’s one less lacrosse game they get to play (this season),” Klever said. “So I try to put that into perspective.… I hope that lights a fire underneath some of them.”
The Panthers’ Aubrey Hunter scored four goals and had an assist. Brianna Robinson added two assists and scored once. Libby Bostard had one goal and one assist. Mia Slick made seven saves.
“I think they had a lot to prove and a lot to fight for,” Prickett said. “I think being undefeated and the hunger to keep it that way was huge.”
Mainland Reg. 13 9 — 22
Middle Twp. 6 5 — 11
MT— Sides (12), Barber (4), Hunter (4), Bostard, Robinson.
MR— Medina (4), Murray (3), Spector (3), McLaughlin.
Goalies— Slick (7) MT; Reeves (8) MR.
Records— MT 9-0; MR 4-3.