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MX News Update 2024

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2024 Girls Lacrosse Midseason Awards

Half of the 2024 season is already over.

The district tournaments will wrap up in the next two weeks and the state playoffs will begin. It’s time to honor the best of the first half.

Meet our mid-season prices for 2024:

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Brian Bobal’s pick: Alyson Sojak, Barnegat

The numbers speak for themselves. Sojak has been an elite offensive threat for three seasons now and she is preparing to end her career in style. The senior has already scored 68 goals and has a chance to reach 300 for her career if she finishes the season strong. She is also 28 points shy of 400 and already has 94 this season. If that isn’t enough, she also has 85 draw controls, 60 ground balls and 31 forced turnovers. Sojak was the biggest reason behind Barnegat’s 12-2 start to the season.

Lauren Knego’s pick: Katie Powers, Glen Ridge

The junior attack and three-year starter has helped lead Glen Ridge, ranked No. 19 in the NJ.com Top 20, to an 8-5 overall record and a 3-1 record in the NJIGLL Stars & Stripes White Division. She leads the team in assists (59) and draw controls (91) and goes along with 44 goals, 33 ground balls and 17 forced turnovers. She scored three or more goals eleven times and provided four or more assists in eight games. She has matched a career-high 12 draw controls three times this season, and has eight assists three times on the season.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Brian Bobal’s pick: Susannah O’Connell, Summit

O’Connell was an All-State honoree last season as a sophomore and was just as good in 2024. Through 13 games, the junior has 19 ground balls and 20 forced turnovers. She is once again the anchor of the Summit defense, which may be the best in the state this season. O’Connell has helped Summit to big wins over Morristown, Ridgewood and Chatham so far. Summit’s defense has allowed more than nine goals only twice, and both were against out-of-state foes.

Lauren Knego’s pick: Carolyn Carson, Haddonfield

The senior and four-year starter is one of the best defenders in the state. Last year, the midfielder/defender was selected to the All-Group 2 Second Team and has contributed three goals, five assists, nine ground balls and six forced turnovers while No. 5 seed Haddonfield is 11-1 and 6-0 in the SJILL American Division. She is charged with guarding the other team’s best player and played a crucial role in games against the likes of No. 6 Shawnee, No. 2 Morristown, Kingsway, No. 16 Trinity Hall, No. 18 Ocean City and No. 15 Rumson-Fair Refuge.

TARGET OF THE YEAR

Brian Bobal’s pick: Lexi Gwaku, Haddonfield

Gwaku was selected to the All-State First Team last year and is preparing to take home similar awards in 2024. Haddonfield is one of the best teams in South Jersey and it takes a dynamic goaltender to earn that respect. Gwaku has led the Bulldawgs to an 11-1 record. She has played in every match and has only conceded 71 goals. The senior has managed to stop 85 shots in that time.

Lauren Knego’s pick: Eloise Downes, Morristown

After sharing time with All-State Second Team selection Olivia Licardi as a freshman last year, Downes is holding her own in spectacular fashion this season. The sophomore has made 107 saves and allowed 97 goals as No. 2-ranked Morristown is 14-1 and 4-1 in the NJIGLL Stars & Stripes Red Division. She is a big reason why the Colonials started the season 13-0 with wins over Oak Knoll, Haddonfield, Chatham, Ridgewood and Pingry, among others.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Brian Bobal’s pick: Dana Lenneper, Trinity Hall

The Monarchs were competitive last season, but finished just one game above .500. In 2024 it was a different story. After two losses to start the year, Trinity Hall has won 10 of its last 12 to secure the Shore Conference American Division title. It is a division with other Shore Conference powerhouses such as Rumson-Fair Haven, Shore and Manasquan. This group has what it takes to be a contender not only in the Shore Conference Tournament, but also in Non-Public A.

Lauren Knego’s pick: Jill McCarthy, Paul VI

McCarthy is in her first year as head coach at Paul VI, but it is not her first rodeo. McCarthy coached at Lenape from 2007 to 2022, when she retired, but was asked to be an assistant at Paul VI last season. McCarthy then decided to take over as head coach ahead of this season when Rob Monaco resigned. After going 8-9 last year and 6-12 in 2022, McCarthy has helped Paul VI to a 9-3 overall record and a 4-1 record in the Olympic Conference National Division. With close losses to Shawnee, Cherry Hill West and Clearview, the Eagles appear to be gearing up for a strong run come tournament time.

Rookie of the Year

Brian Bobal’s pick: Kat Gillern, Camden Catholic

The freshman has been able to do a little bit of everything for Camden Catholic in one of the toughest conferences in the state. With 46 goals and 63 points, she ranks second in New Jersey among freshmen and is third with 65 draw controls. If that’s not enough, she also has 10 ground balls and forced turnovers. She scored four goals in a loss to Shawnee, one of the top teams in South Jersey.

Lauren Knego’s pick: Mira Emany, Kent Place

So far this season, the freshman midfielder has done plenty of work on both ends of the pitch for No. 7 Kent Place. She has contributed 22 goals, 11 assists, 33 ground balls, 35 draw checks and 17 ground balls for a Dragons team that is 14-2 and 5-0 in the NJIGLL Stars & Stripes Blue Division.

SURPRISE TEAM

Brian Bobal’s pick: Mount Olive

This team was 5-13 and 0-7 in the Freedom North Division of the NJIGLL a season ago. Mount Olive has already surpassed that win total and is getting ready to potentially win an Independence Blue Division title. This group also has six wins in the last seven games. A great one-two punch from Maggie Tilves and Jenna Scheuten was a major reason for the turnaround. These two scored a total of 81 of the team’s 148 goals in eleven games.

Lauren Knego’s pick: Kent Place

After going 10-11 last season and finishing 1-8 in the Stars & Stripes South Division, Kent Place is on the rise this year. The Dragons, ranked No. 7, opened the season with back-to-back losses to Summit and Mendham but are currently riding a 14-game win streak. That streak includes wins over Trinity Hall, Pingry, Mountain Lakes, Chatham, Montclair and Immaculate Heart as the Dragons, led by Caitlyn Quinn, Lily Gomes and Emma Claire Quinn, advance to the semifinals of the Union County Tournament and the Prep A Tournament located. last.

DISRUPTION OF THE YEAR

Brian Bobal’s pick: Oak Knoll over Summit, April 25

At the time, this was an upset based strictly on where both teams were in the rankings at the time. Oak Knoll was ranked No. 4, while Summit was ranked No. 1 at the top. A stellar six-goal performance from Zoe Harmaty helped pave the way for a thrilling 8-7 win for Oak Knoll, its first against Summit in non-tournament play since 2021. Three of those goals came in the fourth quarter and none were bigger than the eventual match winner scoring with 33 seconds left on the clock.

Lauren Knego’s pick: Kent Place over Pingry, April 13

Heading into this match, Kent Place was unranked with a 3-2 record. The Dragons had started with back-to-back losses to Summit and Mendham, but had won three straight against Trinity Hall, West Essex and then No. 14 Randolph. No. 11 seed Pingry was 4-1 with a one-goal loss to then No. 1. 8 Rumson-Fair Haven. Behind four goals from Emma Claire Quinn and Caitlyn Quinn, Kent Place managed to record a 13-7 defeat for its fourth win in a row.

UNSEEN HERO OF THE YEAR

Brian Bobal’s pick: Hanna Watson, Holy Spirit

When Holy Spirit needs a big play offensively, Watson can provide it. Her vision is as good as her ability to complete. The senior scored 248 goals and 244 assists over the course of her career. She is just eight points shy of 500 in her career, an amazing achievement. Watson can just as easily pick up a ground ball or force a key turnover on the defensive side of the ball.

Lauren Knego’s pick: Mae Murphy, Moorestown

The junior midfielder leads the team with 77 draws, 20 goals, 11 assists, 48 ​​ground balls and 15 forced turnovers. Murphy is a three-year starter and has played a big role as No. 4 seed Moorestown is 12-1 overall and 5-0 in the Olympic Conference American Division. She matched a career-high five forced turnovers in a win over Allentown, and finished with 10 draw controls three times this season against Bridgewater-Raritan, Manasquan and Trinity Hall.

GAME OF THE YEAR

Brian Bobal’s pick: Rumson-Fair Haven over Pingry, April 6

These two met on the first weekend of the season and it could go down as one of the best matches of the season. Pingry had the early push and took a 7-5 lead into halftime. Rumson-Fair Haven slowly began to crumble away to pave the way for an exciting ending. Abby Boyle tied the game at 10-10 with 2:34 remaining and Rachel James broke the tie with five seconds left to secure an 11-10 win for Rumson-Fair Haven. Boyle and James were phenomenal in the win, scoring seven goals.

Lauren Knego’s pick: Summit on Morristown, May 3

Heading into this game, Morristown was undefeated at 13-0 and had just been named the No. 1 team in the state. Summit, which had started the season 7-1, was 1-2 in its last three games with losses to then-No. 2 Oak Knoll and St. Anthony’s (NY). Summit led 5-2 at halftime, but Morristown, despite being one player behind due to four yellow cards, was able to cut the score to 6-5 after three quarters. Both teams scored twice in the fourth quarter and Summit was able to hold on to an 8-7 lead despite a frantic comeback attempt by the Colonials.

Lauren Knego can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on X @laurenknego

Brian Bobal can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on X @BrianBobal.

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