The Toms River South girls lacrosse team needed a fresh start after two sub-par seasons in 2011 and 2012.
In first-year head coach Tara Murray, the program found just what they were looking for to turn things around.
“I started as a freshman coach, then I was a JV coach,” Murray said. “Last year I was an assistant varsity head coach, and then in November I got the job as the head varsity coach, so it was a nice transition to get to where I am now.”
Murray led the Indians to the most wins in team history with a 16-3 record, and the program’s first Class A South division title.
“I knew that we would do well, and winning Class A South was definitely a team goal,” Murray said. “It was definitely exactly what you picture going into a season, and I couldn’t have asked for a better start as a head coach.”
After not qualifying for the Shore Conference Tournament in 2012, the Indians earned the No. 8 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament this season and beat the No. 9 seed Wall 19-11 in the first round. They moved on to the quarterfinals to match up against top-seeded and SCT champions Rumson-Fair Haven in the quarterfinals, but fell 15-3.
Murray credits four-year starter and Rutgers-bound senior Macy Scott for the team’s successful season.
“She is a phenomenal player,” Murray said. “She is coachable kid, but does so much hard work on her own to establish who she is. She is a power player and a hustle player, but is also great at leading her teammates. I cannot say enough great things about her.”
In the NJSIAA state tournament, the Indians earned the No. 4 seed and defeated No. 13 Kingsway 15-8 in the opening round. They won their second game in the tournament against No. 12 Seneca 14-13 to advance to the NJSIAA South Group III semifinals for the first time in school history. The Indians hit a road block in the semifinals against No. 1 powerhouse Moorestown, ending their magical season with an 18-2 loss.
“Before playing Moorestown, we needed to beat Seneca to get to 16 wins for the most in our school’s history, and our program has never made it past the second round of states,” Murray said. “It wasn’t so much that we had to play Moorestown, but it was so important for our team to get to that game with what we wanted to accomplish as a team.” When we played Moorestown it was more of let’s learn something from them.”
Murray has nothing but high hopes for her team next season.
“Next season our expectations are to just win Class A South again,” Murray said. “I love what I do and I definitely see big picture when it comes to this team. It was an insane exciting experience, and I couldn’t of done it without my coaching staff and the great group of girls I had on my team. They also won the sportsmanship award, and I have told my girls all season long, ‘You’re doing great, and let’s keep the success going.’ “