South Jersey High School Girls Lacrosse

A Look at the South Jersey Group 4 Sectional
Championships Won by Eastern Regional in
the 2017 and 2019 Seasons . . .

  This page includes stories, lineups, recaps and photos . . .
   . . .
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Tori Accardo (3) and Dani Mlkvy (14), shown chasing a Lenape player, were stars
for Eastern Regional's 2017 and 2019 South Jersey Group 4 sectional champions.


Gretchen Kiep
Coach in 2019

--- 2019 Squad ---

Coach Gretchen Kiep
Assistants Kerry Heck
  Alex Marshall
  Alexis D'Amico
Goalie Kelli McGroarty
Defense Anacapri Slack
  Caitlin Cowdin
  Kaitlyn Henry
  Madison Cowdin
Midfield Dani Mlkvy
  Tori Accardo
  Ryleigh Heck
Attack  Camryn Silvestro
  Jane Trauger
  Jenna Casole
  Kelsey Barratt
  Note:  Kara Heck, also a starter in 2017,
suffered a knee injury late in regular season.

--

--- 2019 Results ---

   Regular Season      
Williamstown W 18 2
Oak Knoll L 10 18
Lenape W 18 2
Clearview W 15 3
Cherokee W 18 5
Ocean City L 8 12
Shawnee W 11 3
Washington Twp. W 14 4
Lenape W 17 6
Clearview W 16 3
Washington Twp. W 16 3
Cherry Hill West W 18 10
Kingsway W 18 1
Cherokee W 17 4
Camden Catholic W 12 7
Shawnee L 5 9
Holy Cross Prep W 16 5
   SJ Playoffs      
Washington Twp. W 16 9
Cherokee W 14 4
Lenape W 15 5
   State Playoffs      
Princeton W 9 8
Ridgewood L 4 9
   Totals 18-4 305 132
ER Girls Lax
SJ Title Page

  This story was written after the Vikings captured the 2017 sectional championship.

By Mike Monostra
Berlin Sun

  Last year, Eastern had its worst season in more than a decade, winning just five games and failing to qualify for the playoffs.
  This year, the Vikings won their first South Jersey Group IV championship in program history, finishing the year 14–6 and advancing to the state championship game.
  What a difference one season makes.
  “It felt more like a unit,” junior attacker Savannah Slack said about the 2017 team. “We trusted each other and knew what everyone’s roles were.”
  In 2016, Eastern had no seniors on its varsity roster and struggled to win games as a young team. Senior goalkeeper Cooper Cowdin said last year was a learning experience for many of the players.
  “We always talk about the feelings after games,” Cowdin said. “Only winning five games last year, we didn’t really know what a winning season was like.”
  With almost the entire 2016 team returning in 2017, the Vikings entered the season with a lot more confidence.
  Senior defender Brittany Geis attributes that confidence both to the experienced returning players and a group of freshmen who gave the team a major boost this season. Freshman Kara Heck led Eastern in scoring, while fellow freshman Anacapri Slack became an anchor on defense.
  “Our freshmen that we had this year came in confident, so they didn’t lack that confidence,” Geis said. “The whole team brought that confidence level to the field.”
  Eastern’s defense was much improved from last year. The Vikings held the opposition to 10 goals or fewer in 14 of its 20 games this season, while in 2016, Eastern allowed double digit goals in all but five games.
  “We were able to hit the longer passes, and I know our communication, while it wasn’t the best, was so much better than last year,” Cowdin said.
  Despite being much improved, Eastern had its hiccups in Olympic Conference games, especially early in the year. Back-to-back losses midseason against Shawnee High School and Clearview Regional High School had Eastern sitting at 7–5 on May 2. The team wouldn’t lose again for another month.
  “When we lost to Clearview and Shawnee back-to-back, that was a huge wakeup call,” Geis said.
  Eastern went on a run, winning seven straight games and making school history in the process. The Vikings defeated Kingsway Regional High School and Clearview in the opening round of the playoffs to advance to the South Jersey Group IV championship against Lenape High School, a team Eastern hadn’t beaten since 2013.
  continued right below . . . 


Katie Lee
Coach in 2017

--- 2017 Squad ---

Coach Katie Lee
Assistants Kerry Heck
  Meg Liberti
  Alex Marshall
Goalie Cooper Cowdin
Defense Amanda Farnsworth
  Brittany Geis
  Madison Cowdin
  Anacapri Slack
Midfield Kara Heck
  Savannah Slack
  Dani Mlkvy
Attack Jenna Carnival
  Kaela Sierra
  Tori Accardo
  Jess Kinser

--

--- 2017 Results ---

   Regular Season      
Cherokee L 6 11
Haddon Twp. W 12 2
Clearview W 18 11
Middle Twp. W 12 5
Lenape L 7 9
Seneca W 7 6
Shawnee W 9 8
Washington Twp. W 14 9
Cherry Hill West W 15 6
Shawnee L 9 10
Clearview L 10 12
Cherokee W 11 10
Bishop Eustace W 17 7
Lenape L 14 15
Washington Twp. W 13 8
   SJ Playoffs      
Kingsway W 19 5
Clearview W 10 5
Lenape W 12 11
   State Playoffs      
Rancocas Valley W 11 5
Bridgewater-Raritan L 4 16
   Totals 14-6 230 171
       
       
       

  “When I walked into the locker room before the game, we were all sitting and thought, ‘we’re not nervous for this game,’”
Slack said.
  “We really wanted that game, more than anything out of my four years here,” senior Jenna Carnival said.
  After trailing, 6–4, at halftime, Eastern came from behind to tie the game at 11 at the end of regulation. In overtime, senior
Kaela Sierra scored the game-winning goal to give the Vikings their first-ever sectional title.
  Geis said the Vikings learned a lot from their past games against Lenape and did a ton of film study leading up to the win.
  “I knew so much about that team that I could tell you the color of the girls’ eyes,” Geis said. “We knew everything about
them, and I think that was a huge factor in us winning.”
  Eastern went on to beat Central Jersey Group IV champion Rancocas Valley Regional High School in the state semifinals
before the Vikings’ season came to a close with a 16–4 loss in the Group IV state championship game against Bridgewater
-Raritan High School.
  Head coach Katie Lee talked of the importance of winning a title for the program’s long-term future. She feels the 2017
team’s success will have a positive impact on the team for many years ahead.
  “This is just setting the tone in Voorhees and saying lacrosse can be as good as any other program in this town,” Lee
said. “For a long time, I think people underestimated what we could do and what our potential was.”
  Geis and the other seniors are thrilled to set a new high for Eastern girls lacrosse. Geis talks of how the team always tried
to top the program’s previous best season in 2013, where the team went 18–2, but lost in the South Jersey Group IV
championship game.
  Now, future Eastern players will try to match the accomplishment of the 2017 team.
  “It’s such a humbling feeling that girls in sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade and girls who aren’t even born yet will
look at our team as literally setting school records,” Geis said.

--
 
This story was written after Eastern topped Cherokee, 14-4, in the 2019 South Jersey
Group 4 semifnal . . .

By Phil Anastasia
Phila. Inquirer

  Halfway through Tuesday’s sectional semifinal, Tori Accardo sensed something wasn’t quite right with the Eastern
girls’ lacrosse team.
  “We were playing not to lose instead of playing to win,” Accardo said. “We were like, ‘We have to dig deep, let’s go.’
We needed to look at ourselves and go out and play the way we know we can play.”
  The second half was a different story, as top-seeded Eastern outscored Cherokee 10-1 en route to a 14-4 victory that
sent the Vikings into Friday’s South Jersey Group 4 final against second-seeded Lenape.
  But what wasn’t different was Accardo’s prominent role in setting the tone for a team on a mission to make amends
for last season’s heartbreaking finish.
  “She’s such a huge leader on and off the field,” Eastern coach Gretchen Kiep said of Accardo. “She’s extremely
positive and she plays with such energy. She’s just a special player.”
  Accardo, a University of Cincinnati recruit, leads the Vikings with 54 goals. She scored three against Cherokee and
four in a quarterfinal win over Washington Township.
  Kiep said the 5-foot-4 Accardo specializes in outmaneuvering defenders in tight spaces.
  “Her cuts in the eight-meter [zone] are some of the fastest I’ve seen at the high school level,” Kiep said.
  Beyond her physical skills and goal production, Accardo’s biggest contributions to the Vikings’ cause might be her
experience and leadership.
  On a team loaded with talented underclassmen, with a first-year coach in Kiep, Accardo along with midfielder Dani
Mlkvy and a handful of other seniors have kept the Vikings humming along at a high level. They have a chance to
capture both the Olympic American and South Jersey Group 4 titles in the same season for the first time in program
history.
  “We have a lot of young players and Tori was always reaching out to them, making sure they felt comfortable,
making sure everybody was on the same page,” Kiep said. “She and some of the other seniors, they’ve made the
transition easy for me. They’ve been like mini-coaches.”
  Accardo and Mlkvy (45 goals, 128 face-off wins) are seasoned veterans. But the Vikings feature top non-seniors
such as junior Kara Heck (51 goals, 37 assists), sophomore Jenna Casole (40 goals, 51 assists), and freshman
Ryleigh Heck (42 goals).
  Accardo is a four-year varsity player. She was a starter in 2017 for the team that upset Lenape on the Indians’
field for the South Jersey Group 4 title.
  And she was a starter in 2018 for the team that lost at home in the sectional final to Clearview. She calls that the
toughest setback of her high school career.
  “We had beaten them twice in the regular season, but they were both close games,” Accardo said. “We knew it
would be a tough game. To lose that game on our field, it was really hard for us.
  “From the first day of practice, we said our goal was to be home on Friday [for the sectional final]." Kiep said
memories of last season’s finish have fueled the Vikings, especially the seniors.
  “That’s something they’ve talked about all season,” Kiep said. “That’s been their motivation.”
--

Playoff Recaps & All-Stars . . .

2017
GROUP 4
SOUTH JERSEY PLAYOFFS
First Round

  Bye
Quarterfinal
  Eastern 19, Kingsway 5:
The Vikings slapped together quite the double avalanche, opening the first half
AND the second with seven goals apiece. Overall, frosh Kara Heck led the way with five goals and three assists,
Kaela Sierra added four goals and Jess Kinser/Kelli McGroarty notched two apiece. 
Semifinal
  Eastern 10, Clearview 5:
Kara Heck collected four goals while soph Dani Mlkvy and Kaela Sierra added two
apiece. Mlkvy dished three assists and Cooper Cowdin posted five saves. The Vikes led at halftime, 7-4.
Final
  Eastern 12, Lenape 11 (OT):
Kaela Sierra pumped a short shot into the left side of the goal with 58.7
seconds remaining in the extra session. Lenape had created a 11-11 tie with 0:54 left in regulation. Kara Heck
(four) and Savannah Slack (three, also two assists) led the goal parade, Dani Mlkvy and Kelli McGroarty
earned two assists apiece, and Cooper Cowdin scrambled for 11 saves.
STATE PLAYOFFS
Semifinal
  Eastearn 11, Rancocas Valley 5:
Kaela Sierra fired home four goals while support came from Kara Heck
and Tori Accardo (two apiece). Heck also had four assists. Cooper Cowdin totaled five saves.
Final
  Bridgewater-Raritan 16, Eastern 4:
The Vikings were down, 8-1, by halftime. Kara Heck had one goal
and one assist.

All-South Jersey, Courier Post
Coach of the Year -- Katie Lee.
First Team -- Brittany Geis, D; Cooper Cowdin, G.
Second Team -- Kara Heck, M; Savannah Slack, M.
NJ.com All-State
Coach of the Year -- Katie Lee.
None
NJ.com All-Group 4
Second Team -- Brittany Geis, D.
Third Team -- Savannah Slack, M.
Olympic Conference/American Division
(Not Picked by Position)

First Team -- Savannah Slack, Brittany Geis.
Second Team -- Kaela Sierra, Kara Heck.

2019
GROUP 4
SOUTH JERSEY PLAYOFFS
First Round

  Bye
Quarterfinal
  Eastern 16, Washington Twp. 9:
Tori Accardo, Ryleigh Heck and Jenna Casole racked up four goals
apiece and the latter distributed seven assists for the Vikings, who stormed to a 12-3 halftime lead.
Camryn Silvestro added two scores while Heck notched seven draw controls and Kelli McGroarty made
seven saves.
Semifinal
  Eastern 14, Cherokee 4:
The Vikings exploded after gaining only a 4-3 lead by halftime. Dani Mlkvy
was triply impressive with three apiece of goals/assists and six draw controls. Ryleigh Heck also starred
ith five scores and seven DCs. Tori Accardo managed a hat trick.
Final
  Eastern 15, Lenape 5:
Domination was visible by halftime, thanks to a 9-1 score. A quartet of Vikings
could be found in Club Hat Trick -- Tori Accardo (also two assists), Jenna Casole (likewise), Ryleigh
Heck and Dan Mlkvy (nine draw controls). Kelli McGroarty made seven stops.
STATE PLAYOFFS
Semifinal
  Eastern 9, Princeton 8:
After making one of her seven saves, Kelli McGroarty found Jenna Casole for
what turned out to be a mad dash to the winning goal with 7 1/2 minutes remaining. The Vikings won the
draw and ran out the clock from there. Dani Mlkvy (three goals) and Ryleigh Heck (two) halved eight
draw controls.
Final
  Ridgewood 9, Eastern 4:
With 22 1/2 minutes remaining, the Vikings experienced quite the lucky
break as a forward, straight-out-front pass from Kelsea Barratt was not caught by a teammate. The ball
was also missed by the goalie, nestled into the top of the net and gave Eastern a 4-3 lead. Alas,
Ridgewood ruled the roost from there.

All-American
Kara Heck, M.
All-South Jersey, Courier Post
Not Selected
NJ.com All-State
Third Team -- Tori Accardo, A; Madison Cowdin, D.
NJ.com All-Group 4
First Team -- Tori Accardo, A; Dani Mlkvy, M; Madison Cowdin, D.
Second Team -- Kara Heck, M.
Third Team -- Kelli McGroarty, G.
Olympic Conference/American Division
(Not Picked by Position)

First Team -- Tori Accardo, Kara Heck, Dani Mlkvy, Madison Cowdin.
Second Team -- Jenna Casole, Ryleigh Heck, Kaitlyn Henry, Kelli McGroarty.