The West Deptford girls’ lacrosse team put together an offensive showcase, dominating Lower Cape May from the opening whistle in an 18-6 blowout victory in the opening round of the South Jersey, Group 2 playoffs Monday, in just the second-ever playoff win for the team.
The Eagles, who were led by Emily Whalin’s four goals and five assists, jumped out to a 2-0 lead early, and eventually built it to 7-1 with a little over nine minutes left in the first half, when Lower Cape May finally called a timeout to stop the bleeding.
While it was effective for a moment—the Caper Tigers pulled to within four goals after a quick flurry of offense coming off the timeout—it didn’t keep the Eagles down for long.
West Deptford would go on to score four more goals in a two-minute span before the end of the half to open an insurmountable 11-3 lead at the break.
From the midfield transition to the finish around the cage, it was an offensive marvel.
“We’ve been stressing all week that our attack needs to come together and play well,” coach Julie Catrambone said. “They just did it—they definitely did it today.”
Part of the problem in the team’s recent struggles had been an out-of-sync offense that sputtered at times, like an engine firing on three cylinders, Catrambone said. A three-hour session on the weekend got that corrected, though.
And the key cog in that offensive engine was Whalin, who probably could’ve had a handful more than her four goals, had a couple shots not clanked off the iron.
Whalin and Gabby Minnite, who dished out three assists, hovered behind the cage for most of the game, finding teammates as they cut loose around the goalmouth or, in Whalin’s case, simply ripping around the corner and scoring almost at will.
“At the end of the season, we really weren’t connecting on offense,” she said. “I guess I was just back on my game today.”
And with the spread-out offense, players like freshman Mackenzie Thayres, who scored three goals, were able to contribute despite a lack of playoff experience. Thayres said she was somewhat nervous coming into the game, but quickly settled into a groove on offense.
“I got used to it,” she said of the higher-pressure atmosphere. “It actually feels pretty good.”
Teammate Rachel Krott, who scored a hat trick herself, said the offensive outburst felt great after the low-scoring performances of late.
“Today, we were just playing for each other,” she said. “To get it in the cage and get confidence again is really good for going into Allentown.”
That’s No. 2-seeded Allentown, a 13-1 winner over Lawrence, the Eagles’ opponent in the second round.
West Deptford will have to contend with Alex Moore, who has racked up eye-popping stats this season—130 goals scored in 2012, along with 58 assists—and the rest of the Redbirds’ offensive juggernaut, which has only been held to single digits once this season.
Despite the daunting task facing them, the Eagles players were high on their chances in the quarterfinals.
“I know we always play better against better teams, so I really think we can hold our own with them,” Whalin said.
The team’s faced plenty of games and tough opponents to prepare for a team like Allentown, Catrambone said, which should keep the game interesting.
“You’ve got to believe,” she said.
Editor's note: This article has been modified from the original to reflect that this was West Deptford's second-ever playoff win.