Staff Writer
LINWOOD — The Mainland Regional girls lacrosse team didn’t waste any time dispatching visiting Winslow on Wednesday afternoon in the opening round of the South Jersey Group 3 playoffs, as the Mustangs scored five times in the first 10 minutes and cruised to a 14-2 victory over the Eagles.
Mainland, the No. 5 seed, travels to No. 4 Cherry Hill West on Thursday at 6 p.m. as the quarterfinals begin. The other quarterfinal matchups on Thursday feature top-seeded Moorestown taking on No. 9 Lacey Township (which upset No. 8 Absegami on Tuesday), No. 3 Seneca hosting sixth-seeded Toms River South, and No. 2 Ocean City hosting No. 7 Central Regional at 4 p.m. at Carey Stadium.

Casey Murray and Mainland racked up 11 goals in the first half en route to a 14-2 win over Winslow in the opening round of the South Jersey Group 3 tournament. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)

The Mustangs (11-3) got three goals each from Courtney Wolf and Mary McLaughlin in the first half and took an 11-1 lead into the break, but even with such a lopsided victory, first-year coach Kelly Klever said her team will be ready for the challenge Cherry Hill West presents. Mainland lost to West, 15-8, on April 25, but have won 5-of-8 games since then.
“I feel like we’ve been (focused) throughout practice, throughout our season. I don’t think that’s something that you can turn on before a game,” Klever said. “We’ve been really focusing in on trying to play hard and play with grit the entire season, so hopefully we turn that on for tomorrow.”
Mainland had seven different players score in the first half, and getting such a big lead early on allowed Klever to not only get some of her reserves some quality postseason minutes, but she also was able to give all three goalies some time in net.
“I really liked how we put a bunch of different players in different positions, and you saw some of the underclassmen taking the reins, which sometimes you don’t see in tighter games with all the starters in,” Klever said. “And it was nice to see some of the girls get in there and do the things we’ve been preaching all season long. That’s always nice to see.”

Madison Ognibene and the Mustangs face a tough challenge in the next round, as they travel to fourth-seeded Cherry Hill West. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)

Freshman Jules Medina started the scoring early, and Casey Murray, Cadence Fitzgerald and Charlotte Walcoff all notched tallies before McLaughlin scored a pair of goals to run the lead out to 6-0. Wolf scored three of Mainland’s final five goals in the first half, and Samantha Rothman also got in on the scoring binge. Winslow (4-10) finally got on the board late in the first half, but by then the game was well in hand for the Mustangs, who dominated possession throughout and played solid defense during the few scoring changes the Eagles were able to create.
Mainland has a tough road ahead of it, because if the Stangs get past Cherry Hill West they’d likely face Moorestown, one of the top teams not only in the state, but in the entire country. Moorestown currently is ranked No. 13 in the nation, according to USA Today’s Super 25 rankings. But, first things first, as the Stangs are looking for some payback against West.
“I think it’s going to come down to fight. The further you go in the state playoffs, the more you have to dig in and grind. It’s way more than skill at that point. It comes down to a lot of heart, and we’re really excited to play Cherry Hill West tomorrow,” Klever said. “We’re ready for some redemption because we saw them during the regular season. Cherry Hill West is a good team, but so are we, so it’s going to be a good matchup. They are super excited to be able to play them again, so we’re looking forward to that.”
What’s next: No. 5 Mainland travels to No. 4 Cherry Hill West on Thursday at 6 p.m.; Winslow hosts Timber Creek in a regular-season matchup on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Contact Dave O’Sullivan:; on Twitter @GDsullysays