Allentown lacrosse coach proud of team’s effort during 2021 campaign

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Allentown High School girls lacrosse player Olivia White scoops up the loose ground ball and advances it up the field during the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 2 championship against Rumson-Fair Haven on June 10 in Rumson. Rumson-Fair Haven defeated Allentown 18-6.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School girls lacrosse player Christina Orthodoxou tries to retrieve the loose ball during the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 2 final against Rumson-Fair Haven on June 10 in Rumson. Allentown finishes the 2021 season with a 16-1 record. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School goalkeeper Maici Minchwarner surveys the field from behind the net during the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 2 championship game against Rumson-Fair Haven on June 10 in Rumson. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School girls lacrosse player Olivia White scoops up the loose ground ball and advances it up the field during the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 2 championship against Rumson-Fair Haven on June 10 in Rumson. Rumson-Fair Haven defeated Allentown 18-6.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School girls lacrosse player Christina Orthodoxou tries to retrieve the loose ball during the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 2 final against Rumson-Fair Haven on June 10 in Rumson. Allentown finishes the 2021 season with a 16-1 record. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School goalkeeper Maici Minchwarner surveys the field from behind the net during the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 2 championship game against Rumson-Fair Haven on June 10 in Rumson. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

ALLENTOWN – Playing lacrosse during the spring of 2021 was something Allentown High School girls lacrosse coach Jen Garavente and her players did not take lightly.

After losing the 2020 season during the coronavirus pandemic, Garavente and her players made sure they took advantage of every moment they had on the field this year.

“We valued ourselves, our program and every day we got to spend with each other. Because we were so grateful to have a season, that is why we did so well this year,” she said.

Allentown’s mindset helped the Redbirds go 16-1 and reach the state sectional tournament championship game for the first time since 2018.

The Redbirds were 3-0 against Colonial Valley Conference rival Notre Dame High School of Lawrenceville during the regular season. Allentown defeated Manasquan 10-9 in overtime to advance to the state sectional tournament final during post-season play.

The 16 victories represents the most wins the program has had in a season since 2013 (22 wins).

“We are grateful for having the type of season we had,” Garavente said. “We were able to go on a 16-0 run. I owe it to my 12 seniors and their awesome leadership and the great players they were for our team.”

The seniors on the 2021 squad were Morgan Bell, Alyssa Castellano, Sophia D’Ovidio, Abigail Dawson, Danielle DiSilvestro, Maici Mintchwarner, Maeve Muha, Kaylee Munster, Christina Orthodoxou, Sophia Schindel, Grace Welsh and Olivia White.

On June 10 in Rumson, Allentown faced Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II state sectional tournament championship game. The game turned out to be the final one of the season for Allentown.

Rumson got off to an 8-0 start and the Bulldogs never looked back as they won the state sectional title, defeating the Redbirds, 18-6.

Rumson went on to win the Group II state title on June 12 and advanced to the state Tournament of Champions.

Garavente said her players never gave up even after Rumson took the early lead in the sectional title game.

White got Allentown on the board with 7:40 to go in the first half. Munster scored back-to-back goals to cut the deficit to 8-3 with 1:23 left in the half.

Rumson scored two goals late in the half to regain command with a 10-3 lead at the break.

“We always have our heads up and never give up,” Garavente said. “That has been one of our biggest strengths this season. We have been able to pull out some very tight games that way. Our goal going into the (sectional final) was that no matter what, we were going to keep our heads up and keep fighting.”

Castellano led Allentown with 38 goals in 2021, including one against Rumson. White finished the season with 31 goals and Munster finished the season with 26 goals.

Garavente said the loss to the Bulldogs does not take away from the fact that the Redbirds had a successful season and made every moment that they spent on the field count.

“I can’t be anything but proud of my kids. I am very excited we had the type of season that we had,” the coach said.