One of Super Bowl-winning head coach Bill Parcells’ more famous quotes from his career was, “You are what your record says you are.”
Moorestown boys lacrosse proved that saying to be wrong in 2019.
The Quakers played through the vast majority of the 2019 season with a losing record as they battled through a difficult schedule stacked with some of the top programs in the state. While Moorestown may have entered the playoffs with a record of 7-9, the Quakers were battle-tested and their playoff run proved it.
Moorestown won its second Group 3 state championship in three years on May 31 when it defeated Chatham, 9-6. It was the program’s fifth state title in its history, second Group 3 championship in three years and proof of how a team’s record doesn’t always measure its talent or determination.
The 2019 season was unlike any other in the program’s history. For the first time ever, Moorestown did not play in a conference, instead playing an independent schedule. This allowed the Quakers to square off against top teams from all over the state as well as a couple powers from outside of New Jersey. This also meant Moorestown would be challenged from opening day all the way until the Quakers’ playoff run ended.
Senior goalie Gene Martin said becoming independent wasn’t a huge deal for the team, as Moorestown had previously always played a tough schedule. This season, it was just a little bit harder.
“We kind of upped it this year with Malvern Prep and some private schools outside of the state,” Martin said. “But we embraced that hard schedule.”
The season didn’t start the way it normally does for the Quakers. After an opening day win over Westfield, Moorestown proceeded to lose four consecutive games, dropping the team to 1-4. Senior Ben Cantwell admitted there were nerves internally when Moorestown started slowly.
“This is the first year where we didn’t start the season 7-0 or 8-1,” Cantwell said. “It’s something that (head coach Baron Wallenhurst) wasn’t used to and we weren’t used to.”
“We moved a lot of guys around this year,” senior Vinnie Caprarola added. “I started on defense and then moved up to (long stick midfield). Connor (McDonough) moved from attack to (midfield). We kept moving people in and out, trying to find the best fit.”
While North Jersey opponents presented tough games all season long, the Quakers played well against South Jersey opponents. After losing a game in the first week to St. Augustine, Moorestown went undefeated against South Jersey the rest of the way.
“Ever since I’ve been a part of this program, it’s been an expectation to win South Jersey and be the best team in South Jersey each year,” Cantwell said. “That stuff, it comes with being a part of Moorestown lacrosse.”
It was in Moorestown’s final game against a South Jersey opponent, the South Jersey Group 3 championship against Shawnee on May 25, where the Quakers proved themselves to be South Jersey’s top team. Moorestown won, 17-6, to win a fourth straight sectional title and get its record above .500 for the first time since it was 1-0 after the first game. Caprarola said the sectional final was the game where Moorestown finally reached its potential after a season of ups and downs.
“It took us a while to figure it out,” he said. “But at the end of the year, we had our best team on the field.”
“Everyone wanted that game,” Martin added. “When everybody is on the same page, has bought in and wants it that bad, all of the small pieces come together.”
Moorestown’s determination and experience would carry into the Group 3 state final against Chatham on May 31. After going down, 1-0, early in the game, Moorestown took control, building a 3-1 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Quakers never trailed again, going on to win, 9-6, and take home the program’s second Group 3 state title in three years.
— MHS Athletics (@MHSQuakers) May 31, 2019
“Experience, determination and preparation,” Martin said about the keys to the game. “I think we prepared really well for the game. Everyone watched film on their own and we watched film together.”
Moorestown’s final 2019 win-loss record of 11-10 may not accurately show how good the team was, but the final resume of the 2019 senior class speaks volumes. The boys lacrosse senior class heads into graduation having been the only class in program history to make it to the state finals four straight years. The Quakers also won two state titles in a three-year span for the first time in school history and even came one game away from a Tournament of Champions title in 2017.
“I don’t know how to put it into words,” Cantwell said. “People have been playing this game 50, 60 years at this school and to be the first class to have two rings (in three years) and to have that team chemistry and stability to push and win the state championship, it’s hard to put into words.”
“We’re the first senior class in Moorestown history to go to the state championship four straight years,” Cantwell continued. “Every guy wants that tradition to continue. We want to come back and say we built this.”