By Warren Rappleyea
Red Bank Catholic (RBC) High School’s girls’ lacrosse team is off to a 6-1 start this spring, including five straight wins — the latest of which coming against Shore Conference B North Division rival Manasquan High School.
The Caseys and Warriors were deadlocked, 5-5, at halftime April 13, but RBC tallied seven goals in the second half and went on to take a 12-10 win. Emily Kirman made 14 saves in net, and sophomore Mackenzie Boyle scored four goals and assisted on two others. Erin Mattone added three goals, and Kirsten Pezzullo scored twice.
Coach Lisa Caprioni’s team also needed a strong second half to squeeze past Ocean Township High School, another divisional foe, 12-11, April 11. Amanda Murphy led the offense with four goals, while Olivia Farrington and Mattone both had hat tricks.
RBC’s ability to score is its key strength. Farrington, a midfielder who scored 62 goals a year ago, already has 19 goals to go with 10 assists. Murphy, who scored 38 goals last season, has 18 goals so far this season. Mattone has 15 goals, which is just six shy of her output in 2016.
The coach can also call upon junior Lily Salcedo, who has four goals and can also play midfield.
“We graduated our top scorer [Cameron Lynch], but we have the offensive talent to overcome that,” Caprioni said. “We can really put some pressure on our opponents and with so many girls who can score, we’re a tough team to defend against.”
Besides Farrington, the Caseys have even more firepower in the middle with Pezzullo, who scored 32 goals and added 26 assists a year ago. Over RBC’s first seven matches this spring, the junior has nine goals and eight assists to her credit. Junior Emily Rogers is a strong two-way presence in the midfield.
Kirman gives the Caseys a veteran presence in the net, especially with seniors Erica Recanzone and Jillian McHugh battling through injuries and the loss of Lizzy Small to graduation. Senior Emily Holtz has done a good job, as have junior Maggie Lees and sophomores Lily Gardner and Grace Garguillo.
“Right now, our defense is young,” the coach said. “They’re learning, but they make mistakes, and having Emily Kirman behind them is a big plus for our team, especially in our win against Wall Township. We’re still looking to find the right combination, but I think our defense will improve with each game as we get everyone healthy and our younger players get more experience.”
RBC also has a pair of valuable reserves in junior Katie Piazza and sophomore Olivia Bezzone, both of whom have the versatility to play anywhere on the field where they may be needed.
Last season, the Caseys went 19-7 overall and reached the quarterfinals of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Central Jersey, Group II tournament, where they fell to Haddonfield High School. RBC has high expectations this time around, and its lone loss came against powerful Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, 16-7, in a non-divisional game.
“Our first priority, as always, is to win our division,” the coach said. “We certainly want to do well in the tournaments; we just don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”
Red Bank Catholic’s 18-10 success over Middletown High School North April 7 was the 300th career win for Caprioni, whose career total now stands at 303 wins.
“It’s an amazing milestone,” she said. “It would never have happened without so many great players over the years and the awesome assistant coaches who have worked with me.”