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Chemistry, balance key Madison

MADISON _ As Madison's point guard, Julia Olesen is accustomed to doing the bulk of the team's passing. Passing is so commonplace to Olesen that she doesn't even think about it, she just does it.  On Feb. 16, nine games into the season and 76 games into her career, Olesen experienced something special during Madison's 51-26 victory over Hanover Park. "We passed the ball beautifully," Olesen said with excitement and satisfaction in her voice. "We worked together. There was so much chemistry. I'm usually the only passer. Today, everyone was involved. It made it so much easier to play." Olesen,…

Crusaders making up for lost time

DENVILLE _ Morris Catholic went into its opener with St. Elizabeth with a singular objective: To make up for lost time. That's how Tyonna Bailey and her teammates felt after the Denville school was shut down for two weeks due to cases of COVID-19. The Crusaders certainly were behind, at least in terms of games played, when they took to the court for their opener on Saturday, Feb. 6. Other teams had already played four or five games. Now, it's simply time to not only catch up but put up. Bailey, intent on getting Morris Catholic off to an impressive…

Late surge powers Sparta

MONTVILLE _ A three-sport athlete, Sparta's Alexa Acker is adept at time management. Last summer, Acker was constantly on the go, practicing on Wednesdays in preparation for softball tournaments on the weekend, playing in a basketball league, working with a personal trainer and making frequent trips to the weight room. Although Acker is best known for her prowess in the pitching circle, she's become a major force inside for the Spartans, toiling to get rebounds. On Thursday, Jan. 28, Acker, a 6-foot-1 junior forward, took down 12 rebounds and scored seven points when Sparta defeated Montville 55-43 in a NJAC-American…

Crimson know all of the angles

MORRISTOWN _ Facing a 1-0 deficit and without a goal for 36-plus minutes, Morristown-Beard needed a refresher course on angles. Crimson coach Bruce Driver was more than willing to provide one, urging his players to "make the goalie move." With 3:25 remaining in the second period, Faith Facchini heeded the advice, knotting the score. From there, Morristown-Beard, playing with urgency, made it a priority to vary its shots and erupted for four goals in the third period to gain a 5-1 win over Chatham on Wednesday, Jan. 27. "It was a matter of doing things differently," Crimson coach Bruce Driver…

Abundant net gains for Villa Walsh

MORRISTOWN _ Villa Walsh's Quinn Akerman used to believe that the bulk of tennis took place 39 feet from the net. Akerman was wary of venturing to the frontcourt, perceiving it as a dangerous place to conduct business, so she settled in at the baseline, where it was safe and she was comfortable. Since playing under the direction of John Adams, Akerman, a senior, has changed her views. The second doubles player evolved into a quick-to-charge-in daredevil, rushing forward to literally make her point and unnerve opponents. Akerman wasn't the only one enthusiastic about ruling the net. All of the…

Historic season for Hornets

EAST HANOVER _ The beautiful, finely booted and lofty soaring pass from deep on the left side from Julia Santos found its target in Ashley Alfano cutting across the middle. Alfano then delivered when it mattered most, scoring the goal that capped the best season in Hanover Park girls soccer history. Alfano, Santos, goaltender Abigail Huang, Hailey Scaff and a host of other key contributors propelled the top-seeded Hornets to a 1-0 victory over sixth-seeded Parsippany Hills on Sunday, Nov. 22 in the North West B Division final. The goal by Alfano, a senior forward, was her ninth this fall…