Sports Roundup

Southern Sailors Willoughby, Green Snag Mid-Atlantic Title

By DAVID BIGGY | May 08, 2019
Courtesy of: Steve Warren Southern sailors Brielle Willoughby and Bridget Green battle the elements and the best female tandems in the region during the Middle Atlantic States Sailing Association Girls Championship regatta.

Surf City — For those who know them, nobody would ever have reason to question the grit and determination of Brielle Willoughby and Bridget Green. This past weekend, amid a variety of conditions, the Southern sailing team’s dynamic duo competed against the best girls’ squads in the region and captured the Middle Atlantic States Sailing Association Girls Championship regatta. They scored 76 points, four ahead of the Rumson-Fair Haven duo of Colleen O’Brien and Shaanti Choi-Bose.

“There were a lot of ups and downs and a lot we had to get through, but both Brielle and Bridget stepped up at critical times. The effort was amazing,” Southern coach Steve Warren posted to the team’s Facebook page. “Lots of days practicing in overpowering winds on Barnegat Bay paid off in the final two sets. They earned this one by working harder and sailing better in breeze.”

During the grueling, two-day, 20-race series, which featured 16 teams from 14 schools throughout New Jersey, Maryland and New York, Willoughby and Green were tested on May 4 in all sorts of ways. Willoughby started the regatta as the skipper and delivered four second-place finishes during the first six races. However, Warren saw a necessity to change things up a bit heading into the next half-dozen races.

“In a one-division event, there’s no break for the teams between sets and eventually the shifty conditions wear you down mentally,” he said. “For that reason, we switched Brielle and Bridget before the fourth set, and it worked out really well.”

Green responded to the challenge with a pair of first-place finishes, a second and a third to put Southern just eight points out of first place with another full day of sailing on tap for the next day, which turned out to be just as forecast – windy and rainy.

Following a second-place finish in the opening race, Willoughby and Green ran into some tough times. Capsizing at the start of the second race yielded a 13th-place finish. The Rams’ hole got deeper after the pair finished sixth and eighth during the next two races. With Willoughby skippering for the next set, the Rams grabbed second-place in each of the next two races, pushing them closer to the top of the standings with two races to go.

Willoughby and Green won the next race, setting up the possibility for a miracle finish, but the Rams were behind Rumson by 11 points heading into the final race.

“We had a couple of things going for us,” Warren said. “First, we knew they were facing a protest that could potentially cost them 17 points if they lost. And second, we had talked on the dock earlier about how in these conditions everyone was likely to face problems before the day was over. Rumson’s time came at the leeward gate with one leg left to the finish.”

As Willoughby and Green rounded the marker in second-place and Rumson several boats behind, the Bulldogs’ top boat capsized. Southern held its second position, and Willoughby and Green sailed in as Southern’s first MASSA girls champions.

Southern Girls Lacrosse

Punctuates Division Crown

As the saying once coined by Jackie Gleason goes, how sweet it is. For the first time in the program’s history, the Southern Regional girls lacrosse team snatched the Shore Conference Class A South division championship outright. Still, the team wanted to add an exclamation point.

Coach Lori Johnson’s Rams finished 7-0 in the division after scoring a 12-7 road victory at Toms River South on May 2, temporarily erasing the bitterness that came from Southern’s first loss of the season five days earlier. The Rams started off with a 3-1, first-half lead and didn’t relent, pouring on nine goals in the second half to complete the undefeated title run.

While Kyleigh Bell was solid in front of the goal with 11 saves, the Rams’ offense was led by senior Holly Yannacone, who fired in six goals and delivered an assist. Rylee Johnson contributed two goals and an assist, while Sophia Cooney added two goals, and Kacey Kubarewicz and Erika Barbera each tossed in a goal. Senior Colleen Mason also had two assists to help the offense.

Going into the contest, the Rams already had clinched the title after Toms River North had sustained its second divisional loss on April 29. Nonetheless, an undefeated divisional slate was the next goal on Southern’s list.

“What a day yesterday!” Johnson wrote on Facebook the following day. “Could not be more proud of all their hard work, dedication, desire, heart and, more importantly, teamwork.”

Unfortunately, the winning feeling didn’t get to last too long, as the Rams were routed by Shore Regional, 21-5, in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament on May 4. Mason scored three times, while Rylee Johnson and Maitland Demand each added a goal and an assist. Bell and Madison Caputo, who recorded eight saves, shared time in goal.

Pinelands, Barnegat

Upended in OCT Baseball

While both the Pinelands Regional and Barnegat baseball teams appear locked in for spots in the upcoming NJSIAA tournament, the Wildcats and Bengals didn’t have much of a fun time during the opening round of the Ocean County Tournament on May 4. Each squad lost one-run games en route to elimination.

The eighth-seeded Wildcats hosted ninth-seeded Toms River East and lost, 2-1. Joey Ventresca had another solid outing on the mound, going the distance and allowing just four hits while striking out nine. But Pinelands (8-6) managed just one run. The Raiders scored once each in the fifth and sixth innings for the win. Ventresca, who whacked a double, and Billy Crawford, Pete Hammond, Pat Apgar and Anthony Diaz each had one hit.

Meanwhile in Point Pleasant, the Bengals scored twice in the top of the first inning before Point Borough crossed the plate three times to take a 3-2 advantage into the second inning. The rest of the contest was a scoreless affair and Barnegat fell short. Nick Danbrowney ended up 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI, while Lukas Torres and Tyler Suydam each delivered hits. Suydam was solid on the hill as well, going six complete innings and allowing six hits and one walk while fanning five.

Barnegat Girls Lacrosse

Miss Division Title

With the Shore Conference Class B South division championship on the line May 2, the Barnegat girls lacrosse team traveled to Jackson Liberty on a mission. And during the first half, it appeared the Bengals were on their way to accomplishing it.

The Lions spoiled the party. Trailing 7-3 at the break, Liberty roared back with eight goals during the second half, ending up on top, 11-10, to clinch the division crown.

Despite seven saves from goaltender Gabby Furrule, the Barnegat defense couldn’t slow the Lions. The Barnegat offense went flat, scoring only three times in the second half. Maddie Schleicher managed to fire in three goals, while Alexis Jackson delivered two. Kara Ferrigno, Chloe McGee, Ashley Pringle, Kyla Rauch and Madelyn Santorelli each tossed in one goal.

With the loss, Barnegat dipped to 12-3 on the season.

—David Biggy

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