CLARK — As head coach Samantha Warner put it best, team beats talent every time and on Monday night against one of the top teams in the state, the Westfield High School girls lacrosse team fell short of a county title.
Despite trailing just 7-4 at the half, third-seeded Westfield (10-7) was shutout over the final 25 minutes by top-seeded Summit (15-1) and fell by a final of 12-4 in the Union County Tournament Final at A.L. Johnson High School.
Warner, in her second season as the Westfield head coach, took the Blue Devils to their first UCT Final, but they couldn’t hang with the high-flying Hilltoppers in the second half.
“I just think that we did the best we could on the defensive end; we saw a lot of really nice things, but it came down to being able to execute in the midfield and the attacking end,” Warner said. “We were really trying to move the ball as fast as they slid and we did in the first half, but it slowed down a bit in the second half. It wasn’t the game plan that I had hoped for. That’s on me, but it’s something we’ll work on for the future.”
Sam Paoletti scored a pair of first-half goals and Gwyn Devin and Anna Tanji each netted a goal for the Blue Devils. Paoletti’s second goal, on a free position shot, came with just 17 seconds left in the half and temporarily gave Westfield hope, but Summit’s attack was too much in the second half.
Junior goalie Mallory Weisse came up with eight saves for Westfield, including a pair on the doorstep early on to thwart Summit’s chances.
Even with the loss, Warner said she’s seen tremendous growth in the program since taking over, and she only expects the good things to continue coming.
“Every year they buy in a little more and get a little better and they play more as a team. In the past, it was a lot of individual athletes trying to make plays and it wasn’t a team game. Team beats talent every time and tonight we played a great team that’s also very talented today,” she said. “It’s a huge step for our program and I think we’ll get back here again and it’ll be a more competitive game against them.”
Summit 9, Westfield 3: Chris and Pat Aslanian and Chris Callahan each netted goals as second-seeded Westfield fell to the top-seeded Hilltoppers in the boys UCT Final at A.L. Johnson High School. The Blue Devils couldn’t get into any bit of an offensive rhythm, registering just nine shots in the game and constantly being hounded when they possessed the ball. Pat Aslanian got Westfield (6-8) on the board with 1:27 left in the first half, just 12 seconds after Summit had gone up 4-0. But Summit tallied just before the half ended and scored four of the last six goals to pull away. Chris Callahan’s goal came with 3:24 left in the third quarter and Chris Aslanian netted his goal early in the fourth quarter after taking a pass from Pat Decker. Summit (15-1), ranked No. 4 in LaxPower.com’s most recent poll, came into the game allowing just 3.75 goals per game, and held the Westfield attack to below that.