After losing seven starting seniors from last season’s Shore Conference Tournament championship team, Rumson-Fair Haven will look to a core group of seniors and young talent for a shot at repeating at the SCT title for the first time.
In her 11th season at the helm, Bulldogs coach Amy O’Keefe will rely on her four seniors, including University of North Carolina-bound Bridget Curran, Lehigh University commit Nicolette Dunphy and Davidson University-bound Mary Scarrone. The three seniors hope to match last season’s 12.67 goals per game average that led to an 18-win season.
“It’s tough for any team to lose seven starters,” O’Keefe said. “Our seniors this year have really stepped up and we have a good amount of sophomores who are really showing me something so far this season.”
The Bulldogs were tested against a tough Moorestown team, falling 15-10 on March 19. O’Keefe learned something about her team, which held a lead after the first half.
“I was so proud of the way they played that game,” O’Keefe said. “Everyone really stepped up for us and some of the underclassmen really proved what they are capable of doing this season for us.”
In the short time O’Keefe and her staff had to prepare for the season, much of the focus was on getting the offense going. However, it was the strong play of her defense that surprised her in late March. Led by senior Courtney Dunphy and sophomore Madison McGuire, the Bulldogs played impressively in their defensive end against Moorestown.
“It was kind of funny we were all so focused on the offense,” O’Keefe said. “The defense just came out and really stepped up, its good for us because now I know what they are capable of this entire year for us.”
Sophomore Maggie Jennings should provide an added spark to an already potent offensive side of the Bulldogs. Jennings really impressed her coach in the Moorestown game, netting five goals for the Bulldogs.
“Everything is starting to jell for us a team, this is a whole new crew we have so we are still trying to figure out some things along the way,” O’Keefe said. “We have a lot of skilled players on this team and everyone is working really hard to just get better.”
It will be the sophomore and juniors who will continue to take in everything their senior teammates have to offer, something that O’Keefe has already noticed early this season.
“They are looking to them as leaders both on and off the field,” O’Keefe said. “The younger kids see that some of our seniors are going too some great schools to play lacrosse next year, so they are taking whatever they can from them.”