MOUNTAIN LAKES _ When the season began, Julia Aasmaa was playing right wing for Mountain Lakes.
Since then, Aasmaa, a senior, has been well traveled, taking on every position but goalie. Her versatility has been invaluable, allowing coach Coleen Buckley to change up her lineup according to the team's needs.
On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Aasmaa somehow was even more critical, scoring the lone goal when the second-seeded Lakers nipped third-seeded Belvidere 1-0 in a North Jersey Section 1, Group I semifinal.
"Julia has been moved around a lot," Buckley said. "She's been on all three lines at some point. She's been a back on several occasions. The only position she hasn't played is goalie. We can call on Julia to play anywhere. She's got such a good stick. Julia is tall but, in the circle, she's down lower than the smallest person."
The 5-foot-11 Aasmaa scored with 9:34 remaining in the first half while on the right side of the goalcage.
"We had a corner and the ball was just bouncing around," said Aasmaa, a defensive midfielder for the clash with Belvidere. "I got my stick on it and hit it to the right side."
The goal stood, propelling Mountain Lakes into the sectional final. The Lakers, seeking their first title since 2013, will meet top-seeded Newton on Thursday, Nov. 3.
"It's pretty exciting to be in the final," Aasmaa said. "We've improved so much. We work well together and play as a team. Our passing is good and we've been able to get around the other teams."
The Lakers had the upper hand versus Belvidere, both in corners (10-6) and shots on goal (9-4). The visiting County Seaters posed no serious threats. Still, Aasmaa was concerned when Belvidere was awarded corners.
"I was like 'We have to lock it up,'" she said. "There were a few rough patches but we always got the ball out."
At the core of the defense were backs Lili Laderach and Sydney McDonald. The duo toiled in the circle and prevented Belvidere from setting up scoring plays. Eva Lane put in a strong showing before exiting the action with a knee injury. Lakers goalie Jess Menack finished with four saves.
A line from "Miracle," the movie about the 1980 Olympic Men's Hockey Team, inspired Mountain Lakes. The captains printed a quote and distributed it to their teammates before the game.
Aasmaa, a forward for the basketball team and member of the lacrosse squad, feels the Lakers have the ability to "take it all the way."
"When I heard we were the second seed, I knew we had a chance," Aasmaa said. "I thought we could do well after we scored the first goal of the game against Madison. They're very, very good and we did pretty well that day."
Buckley attributes the Lakers' success to a number of factors.
"It took awhile for us to get in sync but now we're running on all cylinders," she said. "I think the girls on the bench have much to do with the way things have gone. They're a great group and push the others every day in practice."
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