Girls lacrosse team finishes 9-9

WEST MILFORD. After winning the county title, the Highlanders lose in the first round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Group 2 Sectional Tournament.

| 29 May 2024 | 11:26

Each hard-earned victory was special in its own way for the West Milford High School girls lacrosse team this year.

A couple wins stand out as the most memorable, said head coach Harry Shortway.

“The first is our contest with Ramsey, who won our division. Ramsey is well-coached with talented players. We were able to win the contest, 13-5, due to discipline play.

“Paige Fava scored five goals; Kailey Maskerines and Adi Arciniega moved the net three times each; and Vivian Sirnik scored twice. The real story was the defensive effort and control of ground balls by the Highlanders. Sirnik led with five ground balls followed by Fava with four. Ashley Czeczuga and Lily Kruetzer each recorded three forced turnovers. Sophomore goalie Allie Rockey recorded six saves.”

The Highlanders’ crowning achievement was the victory over DePaul (10-9) to win the Passaic County Girls Lacrosse Championship, the first for West Milford.

DePaul’s very talented team beat West Milford earlier in the season, 15-7, and was highly favored to win the championship.

The Highlanders went down 4-0 in the first quarter. With 3:45 left in the game, Maskerines scored the final and winning goal, Shortway said.

”Fava scored five goals and Maskerines scored four with Sirnik contributing a goal. Rockey came through with crucial saves during the fourth quarter. Once again, the ground ball battle details the determination of the Highlanders, with Sirnik leading with five.

“It was an overall great defensive effort by Olivia Brijbag, Lily Kruetzer, Emmeline Kruetzer and Czeczuga.’’

The team finished the season with an overall record of 9-9. It went 4-2 in the NJIGLL Independence Red Division, tying for second place with Lakeland and Old Tappan.

The Highlanders, seeded 12th, lost in the first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) North Jersey Group 2 Sectional Tournament to fifth-seeded West Morris, 18-9, on Wednesday, May 22.

Setting records

Maskerines had a total of 122 career goals and 223 career points and set a school record for career assists with 101; the previous record was 64. She also broke a school record for assists in a season with 44; the previous record was 36.

Fava had 228 total career points, including 178 goals. She broke the record of 75 goals in one season with 82.

Czeczuga set a school record for career turnovers with seven.

Several players were leaders this season, the coach said.

“Maskerines and Fava led the offense, taking control by driving through X and drawing slides leading to goals. Solid performances by Czeczuga, Olivia Brijbag and Lily Kruetzer led to forced turnovers, and their ability to accurately pass the ball to West Milford’s attack led to numerous fast-break goals.’’

Many of the players improved their skills, including freshmen Emmeline Kruetzer and Madison Tenhoeve and sophomore Sarah Benowitz, Shortway said.

“Skyler Ribitzki continued to improve following an injury early in the 2023 season that caused her to miss the greater part of the season. Her ability to win draws and recover ground balls increased throughout the season.

“Addison Arciniega and Sirnik both continue to improve in all aspects of the game and to lead by example,” he said.