MEDFORD >> If the games are going to be like this, maybe sister schools Lenape and Shawnee should start meeting again in the postseason more often.
The first playoff contest in recent memory between the Indians and Renegades lived up to the hype. Throw in the fact that both teams were coming off a 10-day COVID quarantine in which either squad played a game or practiced, the intensity was that much greater.
Despite being in the same town and school district and playing twice during the regular season, Lenape and Shawnee have been in different sections when in comes to playoff seedings.
With more regional matchups in mind this fall to limit the amount of travel for each team, the NJSIAA put the Lenape Regional High School District schools in the same section.
Senior Chrissy Solomen’s ninth goal of the season in the second quarter held up as No. 3 seed Shawnee (9-2-1) blanked visiting No. 6 Lenape (5-6) in a NJSIAA South West D quarterfinal playoff game Nov. 16.
Senior Katie Fricke stopped all seven shots she faced for the Renegades’ third shutout of the season.
“I thought yesterday’s game was a battle from start to finish,” said Shawnee coach Renee Toliver. “Both teams played so hard. I do think that the 10-day (COVID quarantine) break was a factor. I could tell with my own team that we were not as crisp as we were earlier in November. This game could have gone to either team and everyone on that field gave everything they had.”
"The game was a hard-fought battle - amazing back-and-forth efforts by both teams," said Lenape coach Sarah Scannell.
The only offense of the day came when Solomen found the back of the cage eight minutes into the second quarter.
"Shawnee's goal was beautiful - a textbook reverse chip shot," said Scannell. "I told my girls pregame that any goal scored would have to be earned - and Shawnee earned that one!"
That was the only goal of the day in the second meeting between the Lenape District rivals this season. The Renegades won, 3-1, on Oct. 13 for their fourth win in the last five games against the Indians.
Lenape senior goalie Kayleigh Kmet made seven saves, giving her 93 for the season. "Kayleigh had a great game in cage," said Scannell. "All other efforts from Shawnee were denied."
Losing is tough under normal circumstances, but after what this season has been like in dealing with the uncertainty of the pandemic, is was especially challenging.
"I was incredibly proud of the way we played," said Scannell. "We never let up! Fought hard to put one in the cage even to the last second of the game on a breakaway by Gianna Monaco."
Lenape had seven penalty corner opportunities, while Shawnee earned nine.
"Our corners were executed perfectly - and Shawnee's defense and goalie (Katie Fricke) played a heck of a game," said Scannell.
"After being off the field together for 10 days, I was also proud of our efforts to stay connected and stay motivated for this game. Shawnee is a fantastic team, and so are we. Best of luck to Shawnee in the next round."
As for Lenape's prospects in 2021, Scannell is extremely excited.
"Dynamite," she said when asked about next season. "With Lina (Neilson), Lauren (Conroy), Gianna (Monaco), Abby (Niemela) and Bryn (Iuliano) as seniors, Erika Roura coming up in goal and an extremely talented freshman class this year, we will be A OK next year."
The Renegades advance to host No. 7 Washington Township (5-5) in the semifinal round Nov. 18.