North girls give No. 1 seed a scare

Knights’ lacrosse gains confidence for future

By: Justin Feil
   In just its second state tournament appearance ever, the West Windsor-Plainsboro High North girls’ lacrosse team can be excused for falling at the hands of Bridgewater-Raritan. One year after dropping the first state tournament game they ever played, the Knights, who dominated Montclair in a first-round win last Tuesday, hung with the North A tournament’s top seed Bridgewater on Thursday, and set themselves up for much longer stays in future state tournaments.
   "I think some of our girls were like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re playing the No. 1 seed,’ " said WW-PN head coach Beth Mitchell, whose first year at the helm ended with a 11-5 record. "Part of them got a little psyched out by that. But as the game went on, they saw we could play with them and we had some more confidence."
   Mitchell is hoping that the confidence and the experience gained in playing two games in the state tournament will help the Knights next season. She saw one big difference that separated consistent Central Jersey power Bridgewater from her up and coming second-year team.
   "Maturity," she said. "Being used to getting to states and having that confidence. This game does really help us. We know now that we played with the No. 1 seed and it was a real good game. It helps give us some confidence. It wasn’t a blowout. We hung with them and that’s going to help."
   The Knights had two or three early chances to get on the scoreboard first, but, perhaps as a sign of the day, they couldn’t make their shots. Bridgewater responded with three straight goals to take an early lead, but by halftime, WW-PN had trimmed the deficit to just one, 6-5. A three-goal run by Bridgewater in the second half put a Knights’ win out of reach.
   "At one point they had a four-goal span on us. We just lost momentum," said Mitchell, whose Knights outshot Bridgewater, 26-20. "We shot a lot of shots right into the goalie. Twice we hit the post and twice we had goals called back for being in the crease.
   "It was a really even match. I think the girls were happy overall with how they played, especially against the No. 1 seed."
   The Knights, who were led by junior Laura Trzasko’s five goals, bid farewell to seven seniors, five of which start. The starters are Stephanie Grato, Lauren Galietti, Ally Hunter, Caroline Jaramillo and Nicole Tartaro. Linda Anderegg and Mara Liebowitz were also part of the first class to graduate from WW-PN, and they leave the program in good hands.
   "I think the seniors built a great foundation and tradition," Mitchell said. "All seven of them are great leaders. They were all so enthusiastic. All of them have a real competitiveness. They all want to succeed."
   WW-PN returns plenty of players to take their lead. Many of them already are leaders for the Knights. Trzasko returns along with leading scorers, Danielle Musco and Valerie Depelteau, and top defensive players such as Liz Yan. They’ll help form a strong nucleus that will look to take the Knights to new highs in the state tournament next season.
   With the confidence and experience gained from giving the North A bracket’s top seed quite a game this season, higher expectations are within reason for the WW-P North girls’ lacrosse team.