MONTVILLE _ Kat Friday wasn't feeling that well. Abby Morgan was in great physical shape all the way through.
Both Friday, Chatham's goaltender, and Morgan, an attacker, came up with big efforts on Thursday, May 4 to help lead second-seeded Chatham to a 10-9 come-from-behind victory over third-seeded Mendham in a Morris County Girls Lacrosse tournament semifinal game at Montville High School.
Friday, entering the game a few minutes into the first half, recorded 11 saves and Morgan had three goals and one assist for the Cougars (9-5).
In the second semifinal of the evening, fourth-seeded Mountain Lakes stunned top-seeded Morristown, 7-6. Sarah Monteleone had three goals, Brenna Wilson had one goal and three assists and goaltender Kelsey Thompson made eight saves to propel the Lakers (5-9) to the upset victory.
Mountain Lakes will play Chatham for the MCT championship on Saturday, May 6 at 7 p.m. at Montville High School. The same two teams met for the county title last year in the final with Mountain Lakes prevailing, 7-6, in overtime.
"I had some version of the flu and a pretty bad case of bronchitis most of the week," said Friday, a 5-foot-10 junior. "I missed some practices and a game or two. But I was ready tonight, I felt basically recovered and I was happy I was able to contribute."
Friday made some crucial saves after Chatham fell behind 6-5 late in the first half (5:49 remaining) on a goal by Mendham's freshman standout Carleigh Mahoney (four goals in all). Morgan, a senior, responded with a goal 1:51 before halftime to send it into intermission deadlocked at 6-6.
The Minutemen came out quickkly in the second half and scored 57 seconds into the final 25-minute stanza on a goal by sophomore Kelly McIntyre (two goals on evening). Chatham then got goals from Catherine McNiff, Frances Workman, Morgan and Emilie DeKeyzer to take a 10-7 advantage with 7:35 remaining in the final half.
Mendham answered with goals by Mahoney with 3:16 left and Meredith Curtin (three goals) with 1:01 remaining, but Chatham was able to hang onto the ball for the final minute to maintain its one-goal edge.
"We really had a lot of energy in the second half and our defense played fantastically," said Morgan, headed to play at Vanderbilt in the fall. "Kat gave us a big-time performance and we also were extra motivated when Bella (Marshall) went out of the game. She has meant so much to this team, we wanted to help dedicate this win to her and all she has meant to this team."
Marshall, a senior defender, went out with with 55 seconds left in the first half. She appeared to tear her right ACL, the same injury she suffered two years ago that forced her to miss her entire junior season. Senior Zoe Kraus was also injured in the second half but may be able to return for the final.
DeKeyzer and McNiff had two goals apiece for the Cougars, who were also helped by Workman (one goal, one assist), Kraus (one goal) and Schuyler Bixby (one goal). Chatham had beaten Mendham, 12-11, in overtime, in a regular season game on April 27.
Mountain Lakes, which has won the MCT five times in its history that dates back to 1997 and three of the last four titles, came out of the box quickly and took a 3-0 first half lead over Morristown on goals by Sophia Holt, Wilson and Monteleone, whose tally came with 9:55 left in the first half. Annika Begley scored to cut Morristown's deficit to 3-1 with 9:26 left, and that remained the count at halftime.
The Colonials were able to tie it at 4-4 on a goal by Nicole Ferrara off an assist from Callie Sundin with 15:20 left in the final half and then Ferrara retied it at 5-5 with 8:41 remaining after Monteleone had given the hard-charging Lakers a 5-4 lead with 11:36 left.
Junior Haley Tietjen, off an assist by Wilson, gave Mountain Lakes the lead for good at 6-5 with 6:40 remaining before Monteleone had a valuable insurance goal with 5:33 remaining to make it 7-5. Senior Sarah Grace Plott scored for Morristown (12-3) with five minutes left to cut the Colonials deficit to 7-6 but Mountain Lakes was able to come up strong in the final minutes to turn away all Morristown threats.
"I knew we were capable of playing this well and were were able to do some special things, especially in the second half," said Thompson, a senior who came up with many big stops over the final 25 minutes.
"Our defense did a really good job and we got some timely goals," said Mountain Lakes interim coach Paul Larsen.
"I just found and opening and went with it," said Monteleone about the goal that gave the Lakers their big two goal lead at 7-5. "Everybody gave it everything they had and we're happy to be in the finals again."
Holt had two goals for Mountain Lakes and Begley (two goals), Sundin (two goals, one assist) and Ferrara (two goals, one assist) all came up with big efforts for Morristown.
Mountain Lakes had defeated 13th-seeded Kinnelon then fifth-seeded West Morris Central, 11-9, to reach the semifinals.Chatham defeated 15th-seeded Pequannock,14-1, and then seventh-seeded Roxbury, 15-3, to make it to the semis.
The Lakers lost a regular season game to Morristown, 6-5, in overtime on April 11. Chatham turned back Mountain Lakes, 8-7, in a regular season game on April 13. Chatham has won four MCT titles in the previous years of the tournament, its most recent crown coming in 2015.