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Patriots’ girls’ lacrosse team looks for strong finish in states

By Jeff Appelblatt

The girls’ lacrosse squad at Freehold Township High School has had a fantastic year. For the most part, it hasn’t surprised head coach Patra Acquaviva.

“The coaching staff knew from our first scrimmage that we had something special,” she said after her team beat local rival Howell High School in the second round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Central Jersey, Group IV tournament. “We are doing so well, and I couldn’t be more proud of this group of girls.”

The Patriots won 10 games last season in Acquaviva’s first year as head coach. This season, the team went into the third round of sectional play with 19 victories.

The team only lost two games.

“The [girls] come out and play their hearts out every time they step on the field,” Acquaviva said. “Practices are competitive every day, and the [athletes] come ready for every game.”

A pair of juniors have led Freehold Township’s scoring attack this season. Michelle Pascrell has netted 78 goals for the Patriots, including the two she put in against Howell, while Cai Martin has dished out 32 assists.

Martin has also been one of the Patriot’s top scorers. Four goals against the Rebels brought her to 54 on the season.

Fellow junior Lindsay Smith was tasked with protecting the net, and the goalie picked up all 10 wins for the Patriots last season, stopping about 50 shots fired her way from entering the net.

This season, Smith has unquestionably stepped her game up like her teammates. She’s blocked more than 65 percent of the shots she has faced.

Freehold Township and its coach just hoped things continued when the sectional tournament continued May 23 vs. Marlboro High School. Freehold Township beat the Mustangs twice during the regular season, but a third meeting was arranged when Marlboro pulled out a close 16-15 victory over Monroe Township High School in the second round.

The winner of that contest will play in the championship match May 26 against either Princeton High School or Rancocas Valley Regional High School.

No matter who Freehold Township faces the rest of the way, the coach just hopes her team can end the year with an exclamation.

“We have a season where everything is meshing,” Acquaviva said. “We hope to finish it on a strong note in states.”

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