On May 11 at Monmouth University’s Kessler Stadium, Rumson-Fair Haven High School beat Red Bank Catholic High School, 9-6, in the Shore Conference Tournament championship.
Rumson-Fair Haven earned its seventh consecutive Shore Conference girls’ lacrosse title and its 120th straight victory against Shore opponents.
But the Bulldogs would not have triumphed this time without their senior goaltender, Sophia Bocklage.
The third-year starter made 11 saves and spearheaded an effort in which Rumson-Fair Haven held RBC to less than half of its average goal total. RBC averages 12.3 goals per game but scored just six in the title clash.
Bocklage didn’t just backbone the victory with solid play, either. Like a National Hockey League goalie on a playoff run, she stood on her head and made a bunch of spectacular saves.
In the second half, RBC’s leading scorer, senior Mackenzie Boyle, raced in and blasted a shot toward the net. Bocklage reached her arm out and volleyed the ball away from the cage.
The senior made stops like that throughout the second half on May 11.
“Had they gone in, it would have been a different game,” said Rumson-Fair Haven coach Amy O’Keefe.
“A big part of it was communication. Being able to know where everybody is all the time,” Bocklage said. “That really brought our defense together.”
Despite being a three-year starter and the all-time saves leader for one of the best programs in New Jersey, Bocklage is not well known in girls’ lacrosse circles. She rarely gets recognition when the Bulldogs win.
But after this latest championship victory, media members circled Bocklage.
“Everybody couldn’t believe how well she played,” O’Keefe said. “Everybody could see she was the savior.”
Bocklage is pretty mild mannered and mature. So she didn’t care about being a local celebrity for 15 minutes.
She just wanted to enjoy the moment with her teammates.
“It’s my senior year and I want to have every moment I can remember,” she said. “Make sure it’s the best memory it can be.”
The senior also completely understood why she was overlooked before. As the goalie, no one sees how talented her teammates are better than her.
“Being able to play with a skilled team has definitely helped me,” Bocklage said.
Her defenders are particularly skilled and cohesive. In the Shore Conference title game, senior Grace Jamin marked Boyle and slowed her down.
Senior Avery O’Connell intercepted a pass in the second half. Junior Riley Bunnell scooped up ground balls. Junior Lizzie Foggia also guarded RBC scorers.
Rumson-Fair Haven’s talented offensive unit did its part in the victory as well. Sophomore Chase Boyle recorded two goals and two assists. Senior Cassie James and junior Sophia Passalaqua both scored twice.
This well rounded team should fare just as well in its next tournament. The Bulldogs are the No. 1 seed in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 2 bracket.
During their run of conference titles, the Bulldogs have won only one Group 2 state championship, which came in 2016. That’s their goal this spring, to win Group 2 and make the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions, which starts on June 1.
“We are pretty confident we can do it,” O’Keefe said.