Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/27/17
Kaela Sierra scored with 58.7 seconds left in overtime to lift visiting Eastern to a thrilling 12-11 victory over top-seeded Lenape for its first NJSIAA South Jersey Group 4 title in school history.
Eastern (12-5) had fallen twice this year to Lenape (15-1), which had its perfect season ruined.
Eastern was only 5-12 last year, but has won six straight and advances to meet Central Jersey champion Rancocas Valley, a 14-3 winner over Freehold.
“I can’t put it into words.” said Sierra, a Stony Brook signee who scored twice. “I am just beyond happy winning our first SJ’s title. We had many ups and downs as the years passed, but this year we worked extremely hard as a team to get to the final round.”
“I am proud of our program,” added Eastern coach Katie Lee. “We knew winning today meant that we had to bring our best game. The win was a team effort, and everyone knew their role. We had a game plan going in and everyone stuck to the plan.”
Lenape led, 6-4, at halftime with the help of Gabrielle Fornia (five goals), but Sierra (three goals), freshman Kara Heck (four goals) and Savannah Slack (three goals, two assists) gave Eastern an 11-10 lead with 6:30 in the second half. The game remained 11-10 until Lenape’s Carlee Braverman (three goals two assists) tied it with 54 seconds left in regulation.
“In the beginning of the game we were not getting that many position from the draws and making little mistakes,” said Sierra. “But we stepped it up 100% after the first half and really played our game and just overall played well together and worked as a team.
“Each and every one was so focused.”
Sierra’s game-winner came after she cut to the middle and fired low.
“When we were in overtime and we got position from the draw I was thinking in my head we just need to put it behind that net and win it all,” she said “So I just took it to cage and it hit bottom post and for a second I thought it wasn’t going in, but when my teammates jumped on me … I realized it went in we had just won the SJ group title!”
Cooper Cowdin stood out in goal for Eastern with 11 saves. Dani Mlkvy had a goal and two assists while Tori Accardo and Amanda Farnsworth each scored once.
“This win is huge for us,” said Sierra. “We played Lenape twice this season and they were very close games. The third time was now our turn.
“We never got recognition that much when we started to win our games in our conference and it was frustrating, but We just had to prove people wrong and make a statement for our team.”
Eastern 12, Lenape 11
Eastern 4 7 1 -12
Lenape 6 5 0 -11
Tori Accardo 1g
Amanda Farnsworth 1g
Kara Heck 4g
Kelli McGroarty 2a
Dani Mlkvy 1g 2a
Kaela Sierra 2g
Savannah Slack 3g, 2a
Cooper Cowdin 11 saves
Carlee Faraghan-Braverman 3g, 2a
Lauren Figura 2g, 1a
Gabrielle Fornia 5g
Maddy Levithan 1g
Gillian Cortese 5 saves