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Ruskey’s late goals lift Middle Twp. over Ocean City 15-13 in matchup of CAL’s top girls lacrosse teams

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City girls lacrosse team had their sights set on capturing the Cape-Atlantic League championship this season. Defending champion Middle Township had other ideas. The visiting Panthers got five goals each from Bridget Ruskey and Allison Hunter, and four more from Jenna Herlihy, to outlast the Red Raiders 15-13 and essentially wrap up the CAL title for a second straight season. Ocean City (14-2, 10-1) and Middle Township (13-1, 11-0) traded goals throughout much of the first half before the Panthers took an 11-8 lead into halftime. They extended that lead to 13-8 on goals by Herlihy and Ruskey before the Red Raiders went on a run of scoring five straight goals to tie the game at 13 and set up a white-knuckle finish in the final three minutes. Ocean City's Dara Hennessy tries to get around a Panthers defender during the second half. Ocean City’s Dara Hennessy tries to get around a Panthers defender during the second half.R “They had a run at it at the end. It just comes down to the draw and they have a lot of height, so we struggled with that,” said Ocean City coach Alyssa Preis. “We do really well off momentum. Once we got one or two, we just kept going with that. Our speed has always been a threat to other teams. I think maybe if we saw them earlier in the season it may have been a different ending. It was building up and building up. I think both teams played really well, they just had one or two extra than us.” Hennessy led all scorers with six goals and O’Reilly and Allen each added a pair, while Lexie Sharp, Mikala Gillespie and Fenton each added one goal. Pries said the Red Raiders have to refocus quickly, with games against rivals Mainland and Egg Harbor Township coming up. Ocean City still is in very good position to earn a home game in the first round of the playoffs. “It’s a tough loss today and I know the girls are upset. There were a few things that could have gone differently to change the CAL, but we have a good standing right now. If we can win the next two games before the cutoff we’ll have a pretty good standing going in,” Preis said. “Hopefully, we can get a higher seed than we’ve ever had before. That’s what we need to concentrate on. We have Mainland and EHT, both away, and one of them is a night game, so they will both be high intensity and emotional games. But if they play like they did today, hopefully they won’t have a problem.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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