It was another good season for girls lacrosse in the Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD), and it holds a lot of promise for a brighter 2017. This year’s teams from the district were led by a number of talented juniors and sophomores who will be back better than ever next spring.
Freehold Township High School was again the top team in the district this year, finishing 10-7 and in second place in the Shore Conference A North Division. The Patriots qualified for both the Shore Conference Tournament and NJSIAA South Jersey sectional playoffs under first-year coach Patra Aquaviva. They were led by the defensive prowess of Cai Martin and midfielders Victoria Camassa and Michelle Pascrell.
Seniors Erin Rotondo and Carly Niro, who have played such an important role in Manalapan High School’s rise on the lacrosse field, led the Braves (9-8) to the Shore Conference Tournament in their final seasons.
Colts Neck High School (8-9) made the state tournament, which was a big deal for the team. The Cougars were expected to take a step back after winning the B North Division title and losing their all-time leading score, Erika Keselman, to Ohio State University. But the young Cougars blossomed as the season progressed and received the postseason experience their new head coach, Christine Latteri, wanted by qualifying for the state sectional tournament.
Marlboro High School (8-11) continued to make gains and is on the cusp of joining the above teams. The Mustangs graduated just two starters.
Howell High School (7-10) remained competitive while rebuilding thanks to four-year starter Alexis Hart.
Martin, Camassa, Rotondo and Niro lead the News Transcript’s All-FRHSD Girls Lacrosse Team.
The attack/midfielders are Camassa, Rotondo, Niro, and Freehold Township’s Michelle Pascrell, Raegen Dunn and Kaela Chadzuitko; Marlboro’s Christian James and Jamie Gerringer; Colts Neck’s Becky Bock, Ally Largey and Taylor Niedzielski; and Howell’s Olivia Manghisi.
The defenders are Martin, Hart, Colts Neck’s Alyssa Lazarus, Marlboro’s Carly Weilheimer and Manalapan’s Brianne Waring. The goalies are the Howell tandem of Jessica Lazarus and Kayleigh Wilson.
Just a sophomore, Martin is one of the premier defenders in the entire conference. Called technically sound by Acquaviva, Martin patrolled the Patriots’ backfield sideline-to-sideline and was always in the right place. Her one-on-one skills helped her shut down opposing scorers. When the Patriots needed offense, she was moved up to midfield to help generate more scoring opportunities. She scored 15 goals and had six assists in her limited offensive thrusts.
Camassa sparked the Patriots offense. The senior had 50 goals and assisted on 24 more, as midfield was Freehold Township’s strength all season.
Sophomore Pascrell led the Patriots in assists with 27 while scoring 38 times. She also led the team in draw controls with 52.
Junior Dunn, who played both midfield and attack, contributed 28 goals and 11 assists.
Chardzuitko, a senior, chipped in with 19 goals and 12 assists for the Patriots.
Midfielders Rotondo and Niro elevated the Manalapan program during their careers, leaving as the all-time leaders in assists and second and third in goals scored. They were as prolific as ever this spring, with Rotondo netting 73 goals and 20 assists. Niro delivered 60 goals and 21 assists for the team, which qualified for both postseason tournaments.
Waring was a force in the backfield. The senior had great anticipation, which enabled her to intercept or knock down passes.
The Colts Neck offense relied on its talented midfielders. Largey had 24 goals and nine assists and had a pair of game-winning goals that helped the team qualify for the state tournament. Niedzielski led the team with 25 goals and had 10 assists. Bock, a strong two-way player, had 18 goals and 11 assist and led the team in ground balls with 44. Largey and Niedzielski are sophomores and Bock is a junior. The Cougars have a lot to look forward to.
Alyssa Lazarus is another impact freshman. She anchored the Cougars defense all year.
James, a junior, set a Marlboro school record for assists in a season with 28. She also had 39 goals. She was perhaps the player who made the biggest improvement this year after scoring just one goal last year.
Gerringer, also a junior, had 38 goals and four assists.
Weilheimer, the captain and one of the two graduating seniors at Marlboro, was the defender who marked the opposition’s best player.
Hart was the captain and team leader on the field for Howell. The Rebels enjoyed success over her four years, and her spirited leadership helped the team remain competitive while rebuilding.
The Rebels’ future is Manghisi. The freshman attacker had 52 goals and 17 assists in her rookie season.
Howell head coach Christina Pienkowski went with a two-goal rotation with seniors Jessica Lazarus and Wilson. Both had superb save percentages at .560.
Student-athletes who have earned All-FRHSD honorable mention recognition for their performances during the 2016 season are Sarah Shaughnessy, Colts Neck; MacKenzie Dix, Howell; Jenna Goldberg, Manalapan; and Olivia Egnatovich, Marlboro.