Carabases and Donnelly lead Lenape to playoff win

Nicole Donnelly says she will settle for nothing less than a state championship for Lenape. RON TARVER / Staff Photographer
Nicole Donnelly says she will settle for nothing less than a state championship for Lenape. RON TARVER / Staff Photographer
Posted: May 16, 2014

Rena Carabases calls it a "sister-sister thing."

Nicole Donnelly says it's based on shared history, athletic instincts, and eye contact.

"We've played sports together all our lives," Donnelly said. "We know each other so well. Sometimes, we just need to look at each other."

The unique chemistry between Donnelly and Carabases led the Lenape girls' lacrosse team to one of the best regular seasons in the history of the program.

But the Indians, and their senior leaders, entered the most important stretch of the season with a 17-2 victory over Jackson on Wednesday in the first round of the South Jersey Group 4 tournament.

"It's definitely bittersweet," Carabases said of the dwindling days of her high school career. "But if I'm going to end my career, I'm glad it's with this team."

Carabases, Donnelly, and senior defensive standout and draw specialist Courtney Norton - a soccer star who will play that sport at Rutgers - are the lone 12th graders on a team that improved its record to 17-1 with its 14th consecutive victory.

Lenape coach Jill McCarthy said the team's seniors have set the tone for a special season.

"What's been so great about this year has been our chemistry," McCarthy said. "The way they've meshed together is why it's been such a great year, and that comes from our senior leadership."

But McCarthy also notes that her seniors have done more than talk a good game.

"They walk the walk," McCarthy said.

On a team that is averaging 16.7 goals during its winning streak, Donnelly and Carabases have developed into a dynamic 1-2 scoring punch.

Donnelly scored four goals Wednesday to jack her season total to 70. Carabases scored three to bring her season total to 66.

"They are pretty much irreplaceable players," McCarthy said. "They create so many opportunities for each other and for the other players. They are so strong. They are just about unstoppable."

The seniors have been playing together since they were in fourth or fifth grade.

"Basketball, soccer, lacrosse," Carabases said. "We know each other so well. We've been together so long."

Carabases will attend St. Joseph's next year and play lacrosse. Donnelly also will attend St. Joseph's and plans to try to make the lacrosse team as a walk-on.

So the girls might be together on the lacrosse field for another four years. But they still sense the pending end of something as they count down the final days of their careers at Lenape.

Lenape will face No. 8 seed Washington Township in the second round of the sectional tournament on Monday. At this point, any game could be the seniors' last.

"I'm not taking it for granted," Donnelly said. "We know what this team can do. We don't want to leave here without a state championship."

Jackson 1 1 - 2

Lenape 13 4 - 17

Goals: J-Taylor Falcone, Reanna Jackson. L-Nicole Donnelly 4, Natalie Peel 4, Rena Carabases 3, Gabby Fornia 3, Carlee Braverman 2, Courtney Norton.

Saves: J-Karlee Fitzgerald, 8. L-Rebecca Wilenm 4.



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