PARSIPPANY _ Gia Rosamilia urged her Parsippany Hills girls soccer team to forget the past and start fresh going into the state tournament.
One of the school's custodians, Ron Cupitt, provided the Vikings with a motto - "Shock The World" - prior to what has become a stunning postseason run.
Parsippany Hills heeded all of the advice and embraced its lucky No. 13 seed, ousting four opponents on the way to the North Jersey Section 2, Group II title.
The Vikings capped their magical sectional run with a 1-0 double overtime win over their sister school, fifth-seeded Parsippany, a familiar foe, to claim the program's first sectional championship in school history.
Four days later, Parsippany Hills (9-12-1) triumphed again, shutting out Mahwah, 2-0, at Livingston High School to land a spot in the Group II final. The Vikings' second-half goals were by Sarah Costanza and Gabby Gilgorri.
"This is unbelievable," said Costanza, whose goal 3:17 into the second extra period ended the hard-fought battle against the Red Hawks. "I thought we could win this. Parsippany came out really hard. We had beaten them before so they wanted revenge. They pounded and pounded."
Following their blanking of Mahwah, the Vikings were still in disbelief.
"All of this is really crazy," junior center midfielder Lauren McLaughlin said after the game versus Mahwah. "We started out not so well and got this far. We're trying our best. I'm fortunate to be doing this with some of my best friends in the world. It adds to the experience. We created this thing - "Upset City." We all keep saying it."
Cupitt, the man whose words helped Parsippany Hills get rolling, is on hand for many of the school's sporting events and was there, of course, for the latest shockers.
"Ride the wave, baby!" Cupitt said of the Mahwah win. "Here we go!"
Costanza, a sophomore, scored 12:51 after halftime for the Vikings, slated to clash with Haddonfield on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 10 a.m. at Kean University for top honors in Group II. Gilgorri, a freshman, made it 2-0 versus the Thunderbirds (16-4-1). She also set up Costanza's score.
On Friday, the Red Hawks came at Parsippany Hills, which had triumphed only four times going into the state tourney, full force. The action was even for much of regulation until Parsippany applied immense pressure over the last 15 minutes of the second half. Shots went wide, high or were stopped by defenders like Rebecca Warner or Brianna Crowley. The last three minutes of the second half were most intense as the Vikings had to contend with a succession of corner kicks.
"It was definitely getting crazy," said Crowley, a junior. "The adrenalin was pumping. There was a lot of pressure. We were all working to get through it."
Parsippany Hills fended off the fierce assault by the Red Hawks then braced for and survived OT. Costanza, a sophomore, converted, allowing the Vikings to breathe sighs of relief. Ellen Chen set up the decisive score, passing back to Costanza, who used her right foot to launch the shot from 25 yards out. The ball went high into the net, out of the reach of Parsippany goalie Kiera Lewis, setting off a raucous celebration as the Vikings players converged and collapsed into a pile.
"Sarah's shot was beautiful. It was gorgeous," Rosamilia said. "We had been flubbing shots so I told my players it was time to take them from the outside. The wind was shifting and it was a factor. We adapted to it well."
"We shocked the world again," said Nathalia Gallo, another defensive standout for the Vikings. "Parsippany dominated at the beginning then we got pumped. Going into the overtime, we got even more pumped and excited."
In addition to Crowley, Warner and Gallo, Sam Kievet, out with an ankle injury for three weeks, Maggie Lalo, Gabrielle Barrese and Paige Restaino played stellar "D" for streaking Parsippany Hills. Of course, there was goalie Aytana Muschajew (5 saves vs. Parsippany, 4 saves vs. Mahwah).
"Aytana is incredible," McLaughlin said of the junior keeper. "We are so lucky to have her. She puts in a 100 percent effort every game."
According to Rosamilia, all it took to get the Vikings going was a change in mindset.
"I told the team that if they believed, they can win," Rosamilia said. "They needed to have confidence. They could go as far as they wanted. In the state tournament, everything is new."
Parsippany coach Greg Cleary praised his squad for its unyielding defense, too. At the core of it were Kiera Lewis, Jessica Vargas, Faith Preziosi, Sydney Reich, Kyra Reich and Paige Kaiser.
"The defense held strong," Cleary said. "On offense, we had a bunch of chances. The wind is a huge factor this time of year. It's not going to be 85 degrees and sunny but that's the way it is. I'm proud. It's been good year. Congratulations to Parsippany Hills. They played well. It was a fun day for Parsippany soccer."
Crowley said people were doubting the Vikings. That, however, shouldn't happen anymore.
"Our conference was tough and didn't reflect who we are or what we can do," Crowley said. "We gave everything. We always do. We had great faith. Winning today is an amazing feeling."
***PHOTO GALLERY FROM PARSIPPANY HILLS-PARSIPPANY BELOW***
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