WEST LONG BRANCH – The word ‘dynasty’ no longer seems to apply to Rumson-Fair Haven’s girls lacrosse team. The Bulldogs have ventured beyond that into a stratosphere all their own.

On Saturday at Monmouth University’s Kessler Stadium, Rumson held off a game Red Bank Catholic squad for a 9-6 victory that secured an unprecedented seventh straight Shore Conference Tournament championship for the Bulldogs.

Cassie James’ goal off an assist from Chase Boyle with 12:38 left was Rumson’s seventh of the game and held up as the game-winner. Red Bank Catholic closed to within one goal with just over eight minutes to go on a goal by Ava Smith, but Rumson’s defense put the clamps on the Caseys and Sophia Passalaqua scored twice in the final five minutes to ice another SCT championship.

"Going into this game, we knew that we had a lot to lose," Boyle said of upholding the legacy of RFH's dominance in the event. "A seven-peat was what we were fighting for all year.

In addition to winning a seventh straight conference title, Rumson also tied Shore Regional for the most SCT crowns all-time with eight and stretched its winning streak against Shore Conference teams to mind-boggling 120 games.

Boyle led Rumson with two goals and two assists while senior goalie Sophia Bocklage made 11 saves, including seven in the second half. James and Passalaqua scored twice, Jordan Johnson tallied one goal and two assists and Allie McGinty and Ava Poupard each scored once.

Riley O’Connor led Red Bank Catholic with three goals and Smith scored twice. Mackenzie Boyle added one goal and one assist, Grace Gargiulo dished out two assists and Lindsay Mazzucco had a great game in goal with 12 saves.

Unlike most of Rumson’s previous title-game triumphs, No. 7 did not come easy. Perhaps that was to be expected since when the two teams met in the regular season the Bulldogs had to rally to eke out an 11-10 win.

Once again Red Bank Catholic grabbed an early lead as O’Connor scored at the 20:31 mark and again at 14:47, both of free position shots, to give the Caseys a 2-0 lead. Rumson got on the board at 14:00 when Boyle dished to James for a quick connection that found the back of the net, and that strike ignited a three-goal run in a span of 3:07 that gave the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead. Red Bank Catholic answered when O’Connor scored her third goal, but Rumson closed the first half on goals by Boyle and Poupard to take a 5-3 lead into the break.

The lead could have been even more if not for the play of Mazzucco, who made nine of her 12 saves during the first 25 minutes.

Rumson’s lead grew to 6-3 early in the third quarter when McGinty converted a pass from Johnson. Red Bank Catholic was able to cut its deficit to 6-5 thanks to a pair of clutch plays by Mackenzie Boyle, first on an assist to Smith and then scoring off a deft pass from Gargiulo with 15:22 to play.

Rumson never let RBC find the equalizing goal, however, as a defense spearheaded by standout senior Grace Jamin forced key turnovers to send the ball the other way. James’ goal with 12:38 on the clock gave the Bulldogs a 7-5 lead and, after Smith’s goal closed the gap to 7-6, Passalaqua took advantage of an aggressive RBC defense with a pair of insurance goals.

"All season, we've talked about making space," said Passalaqua. "I trust my teammates to know when to drive and when to pass. And, that's what it came down to in the end...a lot of team work, being smart and knowing when to shoot and when not to shoot."


Box Score

Rumson-Fair Haven 9, Red Bank Catholic 6

Red Bank Catholic 336
Rumson-Fair Haven549

Riley O’Connor 3, Ava Smith 2, Mackenzie Boyle: RFH: Chase Boyle 2, Cassie James 2, Sophia Passalaqua 2, Jordan Johnson, Allie McGinty, Ava Poupard.

ASSISTS – RBC: Grace Gargiulo 2, Mackenzie Boyle; RFH: Chase Boyle 2, Jordan Johnson 2.

DRAW CONTROLS – RBC: Grace Gargiulo 4, Mackenzie Boyle 3, Abi George 1; RFH: Jordan Johnson 6, Chase Boyle 2, Sophia Passalaqua 1.

SAVES – RBC: Lindsay Mazzucco, 12; RFH: Sophia Bocklage, 11.


Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.


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