MOORESTOWN – There is a certain level of predictability at play whenever the Moorestown High School girls lacrosse team takes on a South Jersey opponent.
The Quakers are seldom threatened by teams other than some North Jersey powers that have developed over the years or by out-of-state teams that often have national rankings.
That, however, was not the case on Tuesday.
The No. 1 Quakers were handed all they could handle by No. 2 Haddonfield before rallying from a 2-goal, second half deficit for a 16-11 win in a non-league game.
It was the ninth game Moorestown (15-2) has played against South Jersey teams this season and the Quakers have outscored those opponents by an average of 18-4.
In some cases, the only reason the outcomes were that close was because the Quakers have a history of not scoring more than 19 goals in a game so not to embarrass the competition.
With the win over Haddonfield, Moorestown has now defeated six teams ranked in the South Jersey Sports Digest Top 10.
Yet the Haddonfield girls didn’t seem at all intimidated by the odds they were facing.
“I think the girls played hard,” said Haddonfield coach Jess Blake. “I’m proud of them. They showed up and showed they weren’t afraid. They wanted it, and this was a great game to try to learn how to win and stay on top.”
Down dangerously late in the game, Moorestown scored the final six goals – three by Robin Panzarella and two by Cailin Field – to pull out the win.
It was the first loss of the season for Haddonfield, now 14-1, which got three goals each from Gabi Connor and Jaimie McCormick.
Field said the Moorestown girls were aware of what the Bullsdawgs had accomplished this season and they knew they were going to be in for a challenge.
“We knew they were a really good team this year, so we were really excited to play them,” said Field, who scored three goals for the game. “I feel like they have really athletic, fast girls, so we were looking for the challenge going into it.”
If so, the Quakers were not disappointed. Despite falling behind 6-1 early in the game, the Bulldawgs rallied to within 10-9 by the half when freshman sensation McKenzie Blake led the comeback with three of her four goals.
The daughter of the Haddonfield coach, McKenzie said the Bulldawgs were just as eager to take on the challenge of playing Moorestown -- perhaps South Jersey’s most legendary program.
“We knew it was going to be a good game coming into it,” she said. “We just tried to prepare for it every day in practice and all the other games. So we just tried to play the best game we knew how to play.”
For a long time that simple strategy paid off for the Bulldawgs.
Despite Moorestown’s fast start, the Quakers lost their momentum in the final 10 minutes of the half. They were outscored 5-0 in the later portion of the first half and that carried over into the second half.
The Bulldawgs scored the first three goals of the second half and found themselves with an 11-9 lead. That’s when Kayla Frank scored her third goal and that tally seemed to swing the momentum back to the Quakers.
“I was disappointed in the team for getting themselves in that position, and I give Haddonfield all the credit for that,” said Moorestown coach Deanna Knobloch. “We could have succumbed to that pressure, especially when we were down two. But I’m really proud of those who stepped up and led the way.”
Kacey Knobloch, who scored three goals in the game, eventually gave the Quakers a goal that put them ahead with just under 11 minutes to play and they never trailed again.
“I think we just had a bit of a lull,” said Kacey, coach Knobloch’s daughter. “We knew we should be winning. I think we just started playing our scheme. We started looking for each other instead of playing for ourselves.”
Moorestown 16, Haddonfield 11
Moor: Ava Frantz 2, Cailin Field 3, Kacey Knobloch 3, Kayla Frank 3, Collette Smith, Isa Arvelo, Robin Panzarella 3.
Haddon: McKenzie Blake 4, Gabi Connor 3, Caroline Beckett, Jaimie McCormick 3.