MORRISTOWN _ Despite the damage done by Morristown's Olivia Graham, Montclair coach Mary Pat Mercuro still had high praise for the dynamic sophomore forward.
Graham had the ball on her stick often, highlighting the Colonials' 4-0 victory over the Mounties in the North Jersey Section 1, Group IV final on Friday, Nov. 4 with two goals.
"I saw Morristown in the county tournament and against Mendham," Mercuro said. "Number 15. Olivia... Wow! I just love her. She's solid in every aspect of the game."
Mercuro got a closeup look, of course, at Graham when Morristown garnered its first sectional crown since triumphing back to back in 2005 and 2006. The awe didn't end there. The veteran coach was impressed with Morristown as a whole, predicting they'd battle for top honors in Group IV.
"We didn't play terribly bad but we couldn't generate any corners," Mercuro said. "It's a testament to Morristown's defense. The forwards are so darn quick. They're such a nice team."
Callie Sundin and Sam Hessels also put the ball across the goal line for Morristown, which put forth one of its most cohesive efforts of the season. The Colonials tallied two goals in each half. The defense often halted the Mounties before they reached the 25-yard line.
"We played together and were focused," said Colonials junior left back Kei Murphy. "We knew what we had to do and got it done. We're so supportive of one another. We get along great."
According to Murphy, Morristown had to hone in on Montclair's long balls. The Colonials had to mark up and make sure the Mounties didn't cut behind them.
"We didn't want to allow one on ones with the goalie," Murphy said. "We had to have good passing and stay in control."
Morristown accomplished those objectives and more.
"Everyone played their role well," DeSalvo said. "We made stick stops, had good passing and took a lot of shots. We can be relentless at times and I think that caught them off guard."
Sundin gave the Colonials a 1-0 edge 10:03 into the opening half. With 10:14 left before halftime, Hessels converted assisted by Sundin and Devon Colquhoun. Graham's scores were 7:29 after halftime and with 14:05 remaining.
Graham notched her first goal off a corner after getting a pass from Colquhoun. She dribbled a few feet before chipping the ball into the bottom right side of the goalcage. For her second goal, Graham brought the ball into the circle and passed across the cage to Hessels. She got the ball back and knocked it into the middle of an open goalcage.
"It's been such a long time for us that we wanted it badly," Graham said. "We've worked so hard. I'm glad we accomplished this together."
Very shortly after Graham got to school on Friday, she quickly found out that everyone was excited about the team's chance for a sectional title. Classmates and staff members came up to her to wish her and the Colonials well.
"It was a little overwhelming at first but it was so nice," Graham said. "We have the support of the entire school. I felt from the beginning that it'd be our year. We all get along well and we're so determined."
Murphy and Morristown relished their trophy, posing for photo after photo with it. The team gathered on the track following the game and sang "We Are The Champions."
"It's an amazing feeling," Murphy said. "It's my first sectional for any of the sports I play. It's very special."
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