SUMMIT – Head coach Mike Walsh’s immediate words to his Hilltoppers following another sectional championship won at home Wednesday afternoon were: “We play again on Saturday, girls, and what day is Saturday? (the ‘31st’ is yelled out). Yes, the 31st (of May) and what is our (ultimate) goal? That’s right, to play in June.”
Summit is where it has worked so hard to be. That is one win away from repeating as state champions and that same victory away from reaching its goal of playing in June – in the Tournament of (state) Champions – once more.
To advance to Saturday, top-seeded Summit handled second-seeded Rumson 14-6 in Wednesday’s North Jersey, Group 2 championship game played at Summit’s home field.
The Hilltoppers will next take on South Jersey, Group 2 champion Red Bank Catholic in Saturday’s Group 2 state championship game at MonmouthUniversity in West Long Branch.
In last year’s Group 2 final – which was played at KeanUniversity in Union – Summit outlasted a 22-1 Allentown squad 16-11 to capture its first Group 2 state championship in program history.
That victory happened to take place on June 1 of last year.
Summit was then knocked off by Shawnee 13-12 in overtime in a TOC semifinal.
Before thinking about competing in another TOC, Summit will have to get past a Red Bank Catholic squad that defeated West Deptford 16-6 at home in Wednesday’s South Jersey, Group 2 title contest. Red Bank Catholic is 21-2 and has won three straight.
Summit improved to 19-1 and extended its winning streak to 17. Rumson finished its season at 20-4 and had an eight-game winning streak snapped. Before Wednesday, both team’s last losses were to Oak Knoll.
“Rumson was a phenomenal team and they were aggressive,” said Summit’s Sara Szynal, who was one of three Hilltopper players to score three goals along with teammates Madeleine Gramigna and Meaghan Celmer. “We had a good couple of days of practice to key on certain matchups.”
“We had, arguably, the toughest bracket,” third-year Summit head coach Mike Walsh said. “That should prepare us well for Saturday.”
After Rumson scored early to take a brief lead, Summit came back strong to take command of the scoreboard and the game for the rest of the way.
Also scoring for the Hilltoppers were Catherine Cordrey twice and Stephanie Ford, Callie Humphrey and Julia Persche once.
Bridget Curran of Rumson, who netted the game’s first goal, led all players with four goals.
Celmer and Szynal also produced a game-high three assists each.
“We’ve been through this before and I liked our (offensive) balance today,” Walsh said.
Summit led 8-3 at the half and the closest Rumson got to in the second half was 8-4 and 9-5 midway through. Summit scored the final three goals.
Summit goalie Kady Glynn was credited with eight saves to earn the victory in net.
“The story was the defense in front of Kady,” Walsh said.
“It’s important that we stay focused,” Szynal said. “Other teams in school are done with their seasons, so we have to keep our intensity up.
“Our attackers played real well. Rumson made us work for our shots.”
Szynal, now with a team-leading 76 goals on the season, expects the same kind of challenge from Red Bank Catholic on Saturday.
“There’s no letting up now,” Szynal said. “Our main goal is to play in June and make up for last year’s loss in the TOC.”