The eighth-seeded Mustangs scored goals in a three-minute span in the opening half and went on to gain a 3-1 victory over No. 9 Mount Olive on Wednesday, Nov. 2 on the turf at Camp Dawson Park.
Putting in first-half goals for Montville (9-7) were Franki Rizzuto and Jessica Miller. Maura Johnston scored in the second half.
"I'm pleased we came out the way we did," Mustangs coach Jen Mulvaney said. "Two goals in the first half was great. We wanted a goal to set the tone early."
After being in command for the initial nine minutes, Rizzuto, a senior forward, put Montville up 1-0 by converting a cross pass from Val Speer. A little over three minutes later, Miller, a junior forward, tipped in a drive off a corner. The assist was by Johnston, a senior forward. Johnston had an unassisted score for the Mustangs in the second half off a scramble.
"I thought the team played hard," Johnston said. "We finished on attack and that's what we wanted to do."
Mount Olive (3-15) received its lone goal from senior right inner/right wing Kirstie Kovats 4:12 before halftime. The strike closed the gap to 2-1. Montville, however, continued to dominate and kept the Marauders at bay.
It was Montville's fourth game at Camp Dawson Park this season. The Mustangs, of course, prefer playing on the artificial surface.
"Being on the turf allows us to execute our game plan better," Mulvaney said.
In recent seasons, Montville has struggled on attack but that's not the case anymore. The Mustangs have scored 26 goals in 16 games and have been shut out only three times.
"We want to make pretty passes and get it done," said senior tri-captain Heidi Avrov, who played sweeper before being moved to midfielder. "We can't be satisfied with one goal."
Johnston said the older girls are teaching the younger ones that "scoring's a necessity."
The Marauders are a young team with many players who had never been involved in field hockey before this season. Each game, coach Brigitte Geiger has seen marked improvement.
"The hardest thing for many of them to learn was how to move with and without the ball and that only one side of the stick can be used," Geiger said. "Fortunately, this group is athletic and has done very well."
Standing out for Mount Olive versus Montville were Kovats, senior center midfielder Stefanie Brzezinski, senior left inner Julia Siegel and inner Brittany Ryan.
Kovats battled and moved the ball. Brzezinski anticipated plays and distributed the ball. Siegel, who had the assist on Kovats' goal, exhibited aggressiveness. Ryan forced turnovers and provided "great defense on tackle backs," Geiger said.
For Montville, which turned in a solid all-around effort, back Marissa Van Koppen was excellent. Van Koppen thwarted Mount Olive's forwards and was effective at block tackles.
The victory advances Montville to the sectional quarterfinals. The Mustangs will play top-seeded High Point today. The two teams are familiar with one another from competing in the NJAC-American Division. Earlier this year, High Point shut out Montville, 2-0.
"Playing against High Point is a mindset," Avrov said. "They get in our heads early and we can't let that happen. If we play together, we can win."