OCEAN TOWNSHIP – The two questions the Spartans faced entering the season were how would they replace All-Shore midfielder Talia Pritzlaff’s 62 goals and 28 assists and attacker Tyler Bartlett’s 19 goals and 20 assists, and who would lead the defense that was decimated by graduation.
But as we near the midway point of the lacrosse season, those questions now appear to be unfounded as Ocean Township’s high-octane offense is again one of the top-scoring offenses in the Shore Conference and the defense is holding its own behind the superb goal-tending by senior goalie Haley Ross.
The Spartans (8-2, 7-2) brought back three big-time offensive weapons from a year ago including junior midfielder Morgan Bartlett, who found the back of the net 55 times last season with 17 assists, and senior midfielder Ellie Martel, who tallied 47 goals along with 23 assists. Throw in sophomore midfielder Taylor Herr’s 33 goals and 11 assists from a year ago, and you have one of the highest scoring offenses in the state.
Bartlett’s 45 goals and 17 assists so far this season rank her in the top five in the state in both goals and points. Herr is also in the top five in total points with 62, including 30 goals and 32 assists, while Martel is hot on their trail with 28 goals and 18 assists.
Not to be forgotten, senior attacker Amy Wegrzyniak, who scored 20 goals a year ago, already has 21 goals this season with 11 assists for 32 points.
In 10 games this season the Spartans have scored 138 goals, averaging 13.8 points per game while giving up 8.5 per game.
Ocean had to replace three their top five defensemen including Tugce Guven, Jenna DeCapua and Shannon Dunkley, but they returned juniors Jamie Richter and Kate Mostow and added key newcomer Isabella Downs to hold down the backfield.
Richter has assisted on two goals this season and picked up 13 ground balls and Mostow has one assist and 16 ground balls while Downs has chipped in with 10 ground balls.
After being selected first-team All-Shore last season, Ross is back in goal for the Spartans after making 174 saves in 22 games for an 8.4 goals against average last season. This season she’s already stopped 94 shots on goal while allowing 7.7 goals per game.
Ocean’s two losses the season are a one-point, 14-13, defeat to Manasquan, ranked second in the Shore Conference, and a 17-8 loss to Red
Bank Catholic, third in the Shore. In the latest Asbury Park Press Top 10, the Spartans are ranked at No. 6.
They still have games remaining with both the Caseys and Warriors so they’ll get their shot to even the season series. The Spartans are two games back in the loss column to RBC, who occupies first place and one behind Manasquan in second.
Last season the Spartans reached the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III semifinals before falling to No. 1 seed Allentown and lost to eventual champion Rumson-Fair Haven in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
With all the fire power the Spartans possess, they appear to be still in the mix for the B North title with a chance at making deep runs in both the SCT and states.