RANDOLPH _ Ilissa Webb and Cassandra Montgomery wouldn't admit to being comfortable when it came to performing in a shootout but you couldn't tell that from their actions.
Webb, a senior goalkeeper, made two saves and Montgomery knocked in the game-winning penalty kick goal to lift West Morris to victory over Morris Catholic in the semifinals of the Morris County Girls Soccer Tournament on Sunday, Oct. 18. After a 0-0 tie through regulation and overtime, the Wolfpack had the advantage in penalty kicks, 3-1.
West Morris, which returns to the title game after a year's hiatus, will play Roxbury in the final. Roxbury, the defending co-champions, defeated Kinnelon 2-0 on a pair of goals by sophomore Ashleigh Sarafin in the other semifinal. Both games were held on the Randolph High School turf field.
Alison Cuniffe and Sophia Pescatore also had penalty kick goals for the Wolfpack (14-0-1). Stella Johnson scored on her PK attempt for Morris Catholic (12-2-1). The tie disrupted fourth-seeded Morris Catholic's 12-game winning streak.
The shootout was an unfortunate end to a thrilling and grueling game in which both teams had scoring opportunities. West Morris had one scoring opportunity bounce off the crossbar and another was cleared by a Morris Catholic defender in regulation. Goalie Gabrielle Maggio also played well and registered nine saves for the Crusaders.
Morris Catholic, which had not reached the final in more than a decade, had its chances, too, but they were often thwarted by Webb. The senior standout cut down angles and made good decisions. She made 10 saves total and registered her 11th shutout of the season.
"It feels great to be back in the final," Webb said. "In my sophomore year, we ended up tying in the finals. We need some redemption. It was a team effort. My team is excited, the coaches are excited. We are happy to be back."
Webb came up strong in the shootout by stopping shots by Morris Catholic freshman Bailey Chant and talented junior Sarah Racine.
"I haven't been in a shootout since my freshman year," Webb said. "On the shots, I look at the hips a lot but a lot of it is guessing."
Webb brings a wealth of experienced considering she is a four-year starter between the pipes and has competed in big games over the years for the Wolfpack.
"She was huge," West Morris coach Ken Rossi said. "She has been a great asset in the finals and in the state runs. We are glad she is back in there."
The Wolfpack work on their penalty kicks every other day. The West Morris players looked calm and collected as they each went up for their opportunities.
"I knew I had to stay calm and be poised and stay confident," Montgomery said. "I knew where I was going. I was just hoping that it went in. You have to stay relaxed and hope for the best."
Knowing her shot would seal the victory, she calmly struck the ball into the low right corner of the net before being mobbed by her teammates.
"I tried to fake her out and go one way and then another," Montgomery said. "Then I just picked a side and went for it. We practice them (PKs) before every game especially when it comes down to these tough games."
A minute or two later, the skies opened up and an October snow squall seemed to punctuate the ending.
West Morris defense was kept active by the disruptive work done by Johnson, Rachel Mills and Racine but the Crusaders couldn't finish their shots.
"The awesome thing about our team is that defense is every single player on our team," Webb said. "Defense starts with our forwards. They work their butts off to help us. I owe it all to my team."
Top-seeded West Morris will now face a Roxbury team that it had already beaten twice this year, both by 1-0 scores.
"This year we have many talented players," Montgomery said. "It's great that we have gotten this far. We did the work during the season and all throughout the pre-season. It's great that we are going to the finals. We deserve it."
Roxbury 2, Kinnelon 0
The Gaels (7-5-2) put in a dominating performance to return to the MCT final. Serafin, a sophomore, connected on goals in the eighth and 60th minutes.
The second-seeded team had lost three of its last four, including a 1-0 defeat to West Morris, on Thursday.
A strong performance by Emily Kapr kept the Colts in the contest. She made 10 saves, many of them difficult ones, for fourth-seeded Kinnelon, now 11-5-1.