MOUNTAIN LAKES _ Senior center midfielder Lila Maggio sensed early on where Boonton's season likely was headed and gave a somewhat bold prediction after the Bombers' 1-0 shutout over Mountain Lakes on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
"I definitely think we'll have a good run," Maggio said. "I expect us to go far in the counties and the states. We're still young. It means a lot for the younger girls to have a year of experience under their belts."
That seasoning has made a significant difference and helped Boonton improve to 4-0 with its triumph over the Lakers. Five more wins followed before the Bombers, slated to oppose Madison in the Morris County Tournament semifinals, fell to Randolph.
"It hasn't been individuals. It's every person on the field," Tserkis-Schlitt said. "We have some core players who are pivotal but there's talent all over. We have no holes. The girls keep their composure and are a blessing to coach. They make it enjoyable."
Boonton's goal, recorded by junior Jocelyn Martinez with 7:11 remaining in the fourth quarter, was off a corner. It was the epitome of teamwork. Four players had a hand, actually a stick, in the goal.
Lila Maggio began the sequence by passing to Kaylee Hughen, who fired on Lakers goalie Arianna Fragomeni. Fragomeni denied her. Elizabeth Harbeson took the second shot but that, too, was stopped, this time by sweeper Lila Honan. That rejection was picked up by Martinez, who sent the ball into the goalcage.
"Yes, I thought of the game going to overtime," Tserkis-Schlitt said. "I knew 7 on 7 that we'd be strong but I was nervous. You never know. It could've happened."
Fortunately for the Bombers, Martinez's score held up. There was more tension, though, as the Lakers pushed into the circle and were awarded three corners over the last 2:49. The tenacious corner unit, which consists of Maggio, Hughen, Ani Myers, Carmella Campanelli and goalie Tayla Szmak, warded off Mountain Lakes.
"I trust the defense," said Szmak (11 saves). "They've stepped up from last year. There are no worries. I know someone will get the ball out."
Not only is Szmak confident when Boonton defends corners, she is grateful for the intensity and focus of all of her teammates, especially those who play up the middle. Maggio, Hughen, Harbeson and Campanelli are stellar when it comes to redirecting the ball.
"We all do everything," said Maggio, a senior center midfielder and tri-captain. "We've got so many strong players."
Martinez has performed exceptionally well for Boonton this fall. She saw limited action on varsity in 2022 before starting the last two games of thRyannason.
"I always knew what Jocelyn could do," Maggio said. "She's got a lot of confidence and carries the left side. There's no one else I'd rather have in that position."
Several elements have been responsible for the Bombers' recent success, most notably slick passing, making use of open spaces, tight defense and camaraderie.
Mountain Lakes, the Morris County Tournament runner-up last season, dropped to 1-2 after falling to Boonton then reeled off five consecutive wins. The Lakers graduated four starters yet retain a lot of talent.
"This was an intense matchup," Lakers coach Coleen Buckley said. "We're trying to jell together as a team. We have some younger players filling key roles. The girls are learning to play together and have made some key strides."
In the beginning of the game, Mountain Lakes came out energized and was strong. However, that did not last.
"At the end of the first quarter, I think we got tired," Buckley said. "We weren't going to the ball and that allowed Boonton to put pressure on us. We kept flipping a switch. We were on in their end then turned it off. We need consistency. We'll get it with each game we play."
Kaylin Oey and Hannah Lees buoyed the Lakers' attack and worked well together.
"There was a lot of communication, verbally and intuitively," Buckley said. "Each one knew where the other one would be."
In addition to Honan, Flor DeBeijer made a goal-line save. Buckley commended Ryann Saltenberger for being a presence all over the field.