PARSIPPANY _ The stick was short, definitely way too short, for Parsippany forward Savannah Cerrato, who is 5 foot 11 and affectionately nicknamed "the giraffe" by her teammates.
At the end of last week, Cerrato practiced with the 30-inch stick that belongs to the daughter of Red Hawks assistant coach Colleen Smith. A day later, Cerrato recorded her first-ever hat trick, helping Parsippany to a win over Mountain Lakes.
On Tuesday, Sept. 26, Cerrato scored again, knocking in the Red Hawks' third goal to help them shut out Butler, 4-0.
"The coach's daughter left her mini stick so I just tried it," Cerrato explained. "It made me get closer to the ground. We've done mini-stick drills in the past. You get down and ambush."
The victory, which also featured a pair of goals by Olivia Bucciarelli and one by freshman Priscilla Wong, put Parsippany's record at 4-4. More importantly, it extended Cerrato's scoring streak.
Red Hawks coach Rebecca Lilienthal wasn't very happy with the way her team played but, of course, was glad Cerrato stayed in the mix on offense. Lilienthal thought Parsippany's passing game was lacking and expected more from the attack, which had 21 shots on goal.
"We weren't utilizing our passing game very well," Lilienthal said. "The players were watching instead of moving to the ball. The girls kept working and didn't give up on each other. When things didn't go well, we figured out a way to win. It wasn't pretty but we got the job done."
Bucciarelli scored the Red Hawks' first goal 9:17 before halftime off a rebound. She converted again 1:12 later. Lindsey Depetris assisted.
Cerrato, a senior, took a pass from Julianna Davanzo and sent the ball into the right side of the goalcage 12:26 into the second half, putting Parsippany up, 3-0. Wong, who came in off the bench, closed out the scoring with 3:05 left after receiving a pass from Rachel Wang.
"The ball was right there," said Cerrato, lamenting the Red Hawks' inability to capitalize. "The ball was behind the goalie a few times. We kept going for it. We didn't give up."
Parsippany pressured Bulldogs first-year goalie Brooke Redner, who has done a fine job thus far this season. Redner, a senior, was a back before taking on the goalie responsibilties and has adapted well. She finished with 19 saves.
Butler, lacking experience, is working to improve. The Bulldogs' midfield is a strength with seniors Sam Beck and Kayla Carr.
"A lot of our players are right from middle school or rec hockey," Butler coach Kate McAuliffe said. "It's big transition. We're making headway. We'll get there eventually."
The Red Hawks have won two in a row and hope to tack on more victories. Their next game is against Mountain Lakes, which they defeated, 5-1.
"We have a lot of potential and a lot of players back from last season," said Cerrato, while wearing the team's lucky hot stuff hat and scarf after the game. "We've been together for awhile. We're going to stick with it."
Cerrato doesn't want her scoring burst to be short-lived or for Parsippany to come up short in close games.
"It's the short stick," she said. "I used it and I'm scoring."
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