PARSIPPANY _ Over its last five games going into its matchup with sister school Parsippany Hills, Parsippany had a mere two goals.
Four of those teams had held the Red Hawks scoreless. So, when the Vikings got on the scoreboard first, courtesy of Brittany Bonin's goal, Parsippany's players couldn't help but feel unsettled. Their spirits immediately sank.
"I think we panicked a bit," Red Hawks coach Rebecca Lilienthal said. "We were letting them control the pace."
With 10 minutes left before halftime, Parsippany, which received a hat trick from sophomore center forward Olivia Buccarielli en route to a 5-1 victory on Wednesday, Oct. 5, took command, easing its jitters, and did not let up.
"After our first goal, we got some intensity. We got some fire," said senior midfielder Lilian Tran, who set up Buccarielli's first score which came 4:05 before the break. "Parsippany Hills had a lot of intensity, too. We knew we had to beat them. We always talk about it. We were hungry for more once we scored."
The Red Hawks' attack remained potent until the final whistle, spending much time deep in Par Hills' end. Gianna DiGuglielmo tallied what proved to be the gamewinner 8:52 into the second half off a corner. Five minutes later, Buccarielli, a second-year starter, converted again, pushing Parsippany's lead to 3-1. Buccarielli completed her first career hat trick with 7:04 remaining. Savannah Cerrato capped the scoring with 4:21 left.
With each goal the Red Hawks (5-5) scored, they celebrated a little more. No wonder. The scoring drought was trying and the recent setbacks were tough to cope with. And, of course, the battle for bragging rights was on the line.
"We haven't been scoring much lately," Buccarielli said. "The first goal I got meant that we were back in it. The crowd that was here was loud. I was nervous and shaking before the game."
How did Buccarielli feel about her hat trick?
"I was really, really excited," she said. "To have it happen in this game means everything."
Lilienthal was not surprised by Buccarielli's outburst.
"Olivia's just incredibly tenacious and is a competitor," she said.
For her first goal, Buccarielli got her stick on a free hit by Tran and dribbled into the circle before knocking the ball into the right side of the goalcage from five yards out.
Once Parsippany recorded the equalizer, it was relentless.
"We were reactive at first," Lilienthal said. "We had more possession in the second half. Our passing was better. I think we began to play our game. This is a young team and consistency has been an issue. So is confidence. This group works hard. They're capable. A lot of it is believing they can do it."
Standing out for the Red Hawks on defense were sweeper Alice Tatrous and backs Skylar Schey and Nicole Calabrese.
It was clear from the start that Parsippany Hills (1-8-1) was up and energized for the game between rivals. The Vikings took charge and made several early forays over midfield and into the scoring circle in the first half. Bonin, a senior inner and one of Par Hills' captains, had the final touch on the ball after three saves by the Parsippany goalie. Jillian Rogers, a junior center back, had the assist.
"To start off scoring is a great feeling," Bonin said. "I think we were all playing our hardest. Regardless of the score, we've been improving over the years. Our communication and passing are better. We just need more time to show it."
Preya Patel, the Vikings' goalie, made 11 saves and stopped a penalty stroke attempt with 9:03 remaining. Bonin and Rogers toiled on both offense and defense. Mia Maccarella excelled at right back. Delaney Bishof, as usual, was adept at moving the ball.
"We always look forward to this game," Bonin said. "It's so much fun. The town comes together and gets excited about it."
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