Randolph victory lifts record to 8-1

By Mark Kitchin


HANOVER TWP. — Katelyn Shaw is a proud Roxbury graduate but the Randolph girls lacrosse players don’t hold that against her. It’s much easier to accept instruction from a bitter rival as long as it includes good advice and a winning spirit.

The play of the Randolph girls lacrosse team has been one of the most unexpected success stories of the spring season. Once again the Rams displayed their winning tactics and talents in a 22-8 triumph over Park Regional on Tuesday.

Dawn Faranetta and Mallory Grey scored four goals apiece. Kelly McGinnis, Lindsey Klein and Melanie Durbin each added a pair for the Rams. Ten different players in all scored for Randolph which improves its record to 8-1 on the season.

Erin Strickland fired a hat trick for the Sparks.

Randolph took control early and posted a 15-7 advantage at the half.  The Rams built a 12 goal lead with 17 minutes left in the game and the rest of the contest was played with a running clock.

Randolph’s Melanie Durbin has played a huge role in Randolph’s resurgence with her play at center.

It’s been awhile since the Rams have gotten on such a roll. In the past four years, they have had four different coaches including Ann Clifton, who helped to initiate the sport at the high school level before leaving to coach soccer at Villanova in the 90s.

Shaw was an assistant coach last year and raised some eyebrows on the eve of the big rivalry lacrosse game.

“Last year, she brought out the Roxbury varsity jacket the day before we played Roxbury,’’ Durbin said. “It got us all fired up.’’

Shaw admitted that coaching her town’s bitter rivals might be a little strange. It might get even stranger when she coaches against her former coach and mentor Kevin Bewalder when the two schools play next month.

“It was definitely hard at first and I get a couple of looks when I walk around the (Roxbury) development in my Randolph lacrosse jacket,’’ Shaw said. “Bewalder is a great supporter. It actually helps. He does a little bit of scouting and I give him some of the reports. I couldn’t ask for a better mentor.’’

In looking at this year’s team, there were two things she wanted to emphasize. She wanted full commitment from the seniors to help the younger players on the team adjust to the varsity level and she wanted to take advantage of the team’s speed.

Randolph’s Gillian Colaneri (4) looks for an opening against Park Regional’s Morgan Palk (7) in Tuesday’s contest.

“I pulled the seniors aside and I told them they really needed to step up this year and build a program that they would be glad to come back and watch,’’ Shaw said. “They did just that and the underclassmen fell in. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing but it’s been nice for the most part.’’

The Rams’ dedication to speed and transition scoring was on display against Park Regional. A majority of their 21 goals were created by their insistence on pushing to the cage, often right off the draw.

“Endurance and speed are a big part of lacrosse,’’ Shaw said. “Of course, we emphasize speed and it’s always nice to score off transitions.’’

Leanne Manning and Mallory Grey are two midfielders that show tremendous speed and provide transition play on both ends of the field.

“Mallory is really fast so we rely on her speed so much, doing the transition back and forth,’’ Durbin said. “Leanne is great. She always has a positive attitude on the team. I know on the draw if I can’t get to myself I will pull it to her and she’s going to get it every time because of her height and quick stick.’’

Randolph’s Megan Eberle (15) is one of 10 Rams players that scored in Tuesday’s game.

Durbin’s play at center might be the biggest surprise of all. She asked to be considered for the demanding position after playing center for her club team. As the goalie on Randolph’s Morris County Tournament championship soccer team last fall, she was the patient last line of defense on a defense-oriented team. She has emerged as an aggressive and determined athlete on the lacrosse field. She’s strong on the draw, often using her height to win them herself. She also shows no hesitation in pushing the ball to the cage

“She asked to play it,’’ Shaw said. “Her mom told me that she watches her at every soccer game and she just stands around the net and she doesn’t do anything. Last year she was a low defender for us and she didn’t have any goals under her belt. Her mom said, ‘I just want to see some action.’ I said we would give her a try as long as she was willing to hustle on defense and hustle on the offense. She has done great winning draws for us. She’s really into the technique of taking them.’’

The players credit their coach for providing a more assertive and intense attitude and challenging them by raising expectations.

“Coach has done a good job keeping us all grounded,’’ Grey said. “She really helped us grow and raise the bar this year. The intensity level has been raised and she expects a lot from us. We don’t like to disappoint so our No. 1 priority is making her happy.’’

Randolph’s Rachael Galipo (16) initiates transition and Park Regionals’ Melissa Wamp (44) matches her stride for stride.

Although there’s still work to be done, the Rams have already exceeded the expectations of many and are hoping they can build a foundation for the future. With the confidence that comes with winning, they believe they can accomplish a lot more.

“We know we are a growing program and were trying to build up this year,’’ Durbin said. “If we keep working and sticking around for as long as we can, then things will work out really well for us.’’


About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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