By: Evan Wechman
True champions in any sport whether it is the NBA’s Lebron James or NFL star Tom Brady care more about their team winning the game than their personal accolades. Sure, the awards and achievements are great, but it is their desire to help their teammates win the game that make them stars.
With the growth of girl’s lacrosse throughout the area, female stars are proving they too have the characteristics of a champion. In the sport of lacrosse, men have been receiving most of the attention in the New Jersey area for the past decade. However, with student-athletes like Cedar Grove High School’s junior Tracy Moreno leading the charge, the focus of attention has shifted somewhat to the girl’s sport.
When talking with Moreno and her coach Sean Sweeney, it was apparent that Moreno had the make-up of a superstar. She did not brag about her 100 career goals and multitude of assists, but was just concerned about her team having fun, and of course, winning the game. In a moment of fun, Coach Sweeney said he lost track of the amount of assists she has had during her career, proving that keeping up with the star is a difficult task. Moreno is far from cocky and some may say, a bit reserved. However, her play on the field is drawing attention from near and far to the newly formed girl’s lacrosse team at Cedar Grove.
Moreno, when asked about the mounting pressure before she reached the milestone of 100 career goals as only a junior, acknowledged that there was tension. However, like all great champions she stated that “I just wanted to win the game. If it didn’t happen that day, I knew there would be another game.” Fortunately for her, she scored not one goal, but three goals along with an assist at the beautiful newly renovated athletic facility at Cedar Grove High School in front of family and friends. The game ended 12-4 in favor of Moreno’s team as they defeated Morris Hills High School.
Moreno became the first girl’s lacrosse player from her school to reach that high number. The achievement is even greater, considering that Cedar Grove High School had only started a varsity program 3 seasons ago.
Moreno, however, has some valuable experience as she has played competitive travel lacrosse for the Montville Thunder. She also credits her time running cross country and winter track where she admits the running keeps her in shape.
The star lacrosse player has recently made a showcase video of her achievements on the playing field and has just started to see college coaches showing up at her games. Like many other kids her age, she wants to go to college but is unsure of what career she wants to pursue. Moreno, however, is positive that she wants to play lacrosse at a competitive level in college and continue playing after her four years at the collegiate level. She says that even after college, as a young adult, she wants to continue playing at some level and help mentor others including her two siblings.
Moreno, who formerly played the offensive position of attack has switched with Coach Sweeney’s blessing to the more versatile position of midfield. This position requires helping on both offense and defense, with a lot of up and down running on the field. Moreno has adapted to this change pretty quickly, though both her and her coach admit that this offensive juggernaut can improve defensively. However, they are both confident that with her work ethic, that will happen sooner than later.
It is Moreno’s adaptability and pursuit of new challenges that has led her to narrow her college choices at this time to two small liberal arts colleges that have recently formed girl’s lacrosse programs. The two lucky schools are Hood College of Fredericksburg, Maryland and Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Moreno finds herself attracted to the mission of building up the prospective team as she has at Cedar Grove. “I want to build up a new program,” she confidently stated, her face brimming with excitement.
At the time of this writing, the team is 8-2 overall and undefeated in league play. They are getting ready for some tough games ahead but Moreno, calm and confident, has definitely made a believer in her coach Sean Sweeney, who is also a math teacher at the school.
Sweeney has been around the game for a while now as he played lacrosse at Jefferson Township High School for four years. According to the coach, he then played the sport he loves at Montclair State University for a couple of years before “I decided to move in a direction that would focus on my career (teaching). When our lacrosse program started 5 years ago, I knew I wanted to become involved and help the new program.”
As far as Moreno, he knows he is fortunate to have had her build up the program with him. Sweeny says “Tracy has been a great leader on and off the field for us. She has helped with our youth program, looking to develop players on multiple occasions so they are prepared for lacrosse when they go to the high school. She also takes on a leadership role in organizing a lot of our off-season work. On the field, she is the first person to pick up a teammate that is down on themselves and is always looking for ways to motivate her fellow teammates.”
Moreno, who was wearing a Syracuse practice jersey the other day did not mention any big time, more well-known universities that may be interested in her. However, depending on where her leadership and skills take her game, this is one star to keep your eyes on, as more and more college coaches may find out about her. It is not every day, a young student -athlete at a school not known for it’s girls lacrosse program whips 100 goals against rival schools with more experience.