RBR Bucs Battle to the End

 RBR Bucs Battle to the End

LITTLE SILVER -- A model of consistency – that is what the Red Bank Regional girls lacrosse program has demonstrated year in and year out. Despite all the winning seasons the Bucs have accumulated in recent years, nobody was forecasting the heights they would reach this spring.

RBR concluded the season at 15-5, reached the semifinals of the Shore Conference Tournament and earned the top seed in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 3 tournament, making it to the championship game played on their own turf in Little Silver.

Last Friday, the Bucs fell one game shy of being named sectional champions – falling to Notre Dame by a score of 10-6, and while it might sting for a while, no one will take away what this team has accomplished.

RBR head coach Brooke Connell experienced first-hand from the sidelines what kind of run these girls were capable of.

“I could not be any prouder of these girls,” Connell said. “Coming into the season, I don’t think anyone thought we would get as far as we did. Once we realized we could go somewhere with this team, we just kept fighting to win. No matter what the result was going to be tonight, these girls had to be truly proud of themselves.”

Red Bank Regional was a prime example of a team that could get it done on both ends of the field. On the offensive side, the nearly 13 goals per game was one of the highest averages in the Shore Conference, while the defense stymied opponents to just seven scores per contest.

Leading the explosive offense was senior Meghan Murray, who has produced several 100-point seasons and will leave Red Bank Regional with 358 career points. Murray scored a goal in all 20 of her team’s games; including hat tricks in 16 contests. Her 76 career assists are a school record. Murray was also a key contributor who has amassed over 1000 points on the RBR girls basketball team the past four seasons.

A 100-plus point scorer will be difficult to replace, but the Bucs have a cousin-duo that produced 137 combined points in 2019. Claudia Kelly (73) and Madeline Kelly (64) were the second- and third-leading scorers, respectively, on the Bucs offensive line. Claudia is at 181 career points and should reach the 200 mark early into her senior season. Madeline, the younger of the two, still has two more seasons left in Little Silver and has already amassed 115 points.

Emily Dee also had a strong showing in between the pipes for RBR, and has already racked up over 200 career saves after her sophomore season. With another season of experience, she is primed to be an even bigger impact player over the next two seasons.

The loss will certainly sting for the program throughout the winter, but after experiencing the school’s first sectional championship game, there is a desire to have better days on the horizon.

“This group should hold their heads high,” Connell said. “After the game, the message was that they just made history for their school. They made it where no other RBR team has before.”

Red Bank Regional is no stranger to success, and usually produces double-digit-win seasons while vying for a place in the NJSIAA state tournament.

The state tournament was not the only noise the Bucs made in girls lacrosse headlines this season. The Bucs made it to the semifinals of the Shore Conference Tournament as the five-seed after upsetting fourth-seeded Trinity Hall in the quarterfinals, 15-12. In that game, Murray put up eight points while depositing six goals.

Since Connell took the helm prior to the 2016 season, the Bucs have gone 49-28, reaching the state tournament in all four seasons. While each team in RBR lore is memorable, the 2019 chapter was written to include a special bond and desire that this group of girls shared in particular.

“We had a tremendous group of seniors this year that will truly be missed,” Connell said of the class of 2019, who have certainly stamped their impact on the program. “Everyone on the team was together all season. They all wanted it; they put in the time and effort in practice, and they showed it was not only for themselves, but for their teammates and all of Red Bank Regional.”

The success is warranted of a celebration, and celebrate the Bucs will. Rest assured, RBR will be quick to flip the script toward the 2020 season, where the goal will be to capture the sectional title that slipped through their grasp this year.

And while the Bucs will need to replace 100 points with the graduation of Murray, with the Kelly cousins returning and the depth in the program, there is little doubt that RBR will be penned in as one of the teams to watch – both in the state and the Shore Conference.

The trip to the sectional final will not only be a memory for the current group of girls, but will always be used as a vehicle to future teams that success is possible at Red Bank.

“The underclassmen got to taste what it is like to win a few games in states and have the chance to play in the championship,” Connell said. “We think that it will carry on to next year, and once the preseason will roll around, we will use that to fuel the girls and get them ready.”

There are many new chapters to be written in the RBR history books, but the legacy that this group left will float around the hallways in Little Silver for years to come.