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Mendham tops West Morris

BASKING RIDGE _ The lead changed frequently when Mendham and West Morris clashed on Dec. 14 in a season opener.

The Minutemen ruled the first quarter and the Wolfpack had the upper hand in the second period. West Morris had a slim one-point edge at halftime. And, the third quarter was tense, too, as the sister schools stayed close. It was uncertain until the end but then the Wolfpack emerged with a six-point win.

Fifteen days later, the scenario was completely different as Mendham, dominant on the boards, took a commanding lead over the first eight minutes and went on to prevail, 46-36, in the third-place game at the Len Sepanak Holiday Tournament.

"The first time we played it was much different," said Hilary Klimowicz, Mendham's first-year head coach. "This is a testament to how our team can play. It was a team effort, especially with rebounding. All five players needed to body on someone and they all did it. We went to the basketball. We showed quite a bit of maturity for a young team."

Mendham, behind five first-period points by senior Joey Meyers, raced out to a 16-2 lead. Klimowicz attributed the quick start to "energy" and the fact that the Minutemen "picked West Morris up in full court." Meyers, the lone returning starter, added six more of her 19 points in the second quarter. For West Morris coach Fran Gavin, the setback was upsetting.

"We played one quarter today - the fourth," Gavin said. "Even then, the girls had their heads in the clouds. The first time around, we played all four quarters. It was a good, competitive game. Both teams were focused and played hard. Everyone was playing too much in the moment. There was too narrow of a focus and things were very individualized.

"We needed to see the 10 (players) on the floor rather than two and anticipate what would happen next. When we get those two elements down, this team will do nice things."

It was evident that the Minutemen came out wanting to control the rebounding. They positioned themselves well and boxed out. They didn't allow second shots and used their rebounding prowess on the defensive end to power their offense.

"We rebounded great," Meyers said. "We did well with transition and we pushed the ball. I wasn't really surprised by the lead because we've been working so hard. We let defense lead to offense. It's a huge game every time we play West Morris. It's a battle."

Although Mendham was in front by double digits for much of the game, West Morris rallied in the fourth quarter. The Wolfpack cut their deficit to eight points, 44-36, on Mackenzie Selvaggi's 3-pointer with 45.6 seconds remaining. The Minutemen boosted their advantage back to 10 points on two free throws with 34.4 seconds left. On the ensuing trip down the floor, West Morris was whistled for traveling, squashing its chance to further close the gap.

"West Morris can go on runs," Klimowicz said. "They came back at the end. We had to stay full steam ahead. We couldn't look back and we couldn't let up."

"At the end, we played with urgency," Gavin said. "We were lacking in the first three quarters and couldn't recover."

Lexie Naval and Shannon Timoney chipped in with eight points apiece for the Minutemen (3-4). Faith Pappas led West Morris, which reeled off five wins before dropping the last two, with 13 points and Selvaggi, a freshman, followed with eight.

Mendham and West Morris, which compete in the NJAC-United Division, will meet in a conference game on Jan. 24. They could share the same court two more times as well if they oppose one another in Morris County or state tournament games.

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Mo-Beard fends off Panthers

FLORHAM PARK _ Christina DeMattheis knew well what the consequences would be if she missed a critical 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter and they were equally unpleasant.

DeMattheis, a senior guard for Morristown-Beard, figured she'd probably "get yelled at." Worse yet, St. Elizabeth, applying pressure and anxious to rally from a 15-point deficit, would come back and win.

However, DeMattheis, took no heat nor did the worst of her fears materialize as she connected from outside the arc with 4:26 remaining. The 3-pointer, instead, earned her immense praise from coach Mike Sturgeon and was critical in the Crimson's 55-38 victory over St. Elizabeth on Friday, Dec. 21.

"I had to hit that one. I just had to," DeMattheis said. "I was afraid they might win. After I made it, I could see it in their eyes. It was the killer. Leading up to this game, we said we had to get them. We have a history with St. Elizabeth. It would be sad if we lost."

The most recent history was ultra upsetting to Morristown-Beard, which improved to 4-0 with the NJAC-Liberty Division win over the Panthers. Back in February, the Crimson, top-seeded in the Prep B Tournament, were shocked by St. Elizabeth, 40-37, in the opening round.

And that's why Morristown-Beard so badly wanted to avenge that setback. DeMattheis' 3-pointer stood out as did Bridget Monaghan's 17 points and Addisyn Ibrahim's 12 points. Better yet, nearly every Crimson player had a hand in the game which DeMattheis described as "crazy."

"Everyone was diving left and right," she said.

St. Elizabeth came within 11 points, 40-29, when Hannah Kelly sank two free throws 1:47 into the closing period. Each team then had several turnovers. An errant shot by Monaghan began the sequence that led to the 3-pointer by DeMattheis. Erin Martin grabbed the rebound and passed to Gianna DeMattheis, who fed the ball to her sister on top. Christina DeMattheis unleashed her shot from 22 feet out and it fell through the net. The Crimson realized the importance of the basket, cheering DeMattheis' effort in the midst of chaos and rushing over to congratulate her.

"We were not moving the ball well," Sturgeon said. "We had a few quick passes and got the ball to Christina. She's been very clutch for us. That stopped a run. We came here wanting payback. We were looking for redemption. The girls were pumped up, maybe a little too pumped up."

Sturgeon had many concerns entering the game against St. Elizabeth. He feared there was no one capable of clamping down on Hannah Kelly, a junior who transferred from Chatham High School, but Ibrahim held her to six points, all in the fourth quarter. Although the Crimson possess a shooting percentage of 67 percent, led by Monaghan at 80 percent, they have not been boxing out well.

"Hannah worried me most," Sturgeon said. "We didn't think we had anyone who could match up with her. Addisyn did a good job. She frustrated her a bit. Boxing out has been an issue. If you think you're going to shoot 80 percent every night, you'll be in trouble, no matter what."

Bruce McCloud, naturally, wanted his Panthers to come out on top and restressed the importance of defense. St. Elizabeth, which fell behind 32-18 at halftime, was aggressive and its players stuck tightly to their assigned players.

"We knew Morristown-Beard was a very good team," McCloud said. "We had to get up on them and play them defensively. I appreciate the effort and I'm satisfied with it. We like to play a fast tempo and go full court. We feel good defense leads to offense. We just came up short. This was a test right here and it'll make us better in the future."

Morristown-Beard triumphed despite being without Olivia Omelczuk (9 points) for portions of the game. Omelczuk, averaging 10.7 points per game, was poked in the eye in the second period and had to sit out. She returned after halftime yet, soon after, was on the bench for good.

Monaghan was a force for the entire 32 minutes, scoring 10 in the second half, including eight in the closing quarter. She converted 7-of-8 free throws, going 6 for 6 over the last eight minutes.

Sophomore Jane Howard spearheaded St. Elizabeth's attack, pouring in 15 points. Howard was accurate from 3-point range, netting three treys. Courtney Kelly had nine points.

The Panthers scored 13 in the fourth quarter, their only quarter in double digits. It was evident St. Elizabeth was intent on closing the gap and the Crimson could feel the heat. Christina DeMattheis halted the momentum with her 3-pointer.

"That definitely took some wind out of our sails," McCloud said. "We didn't give up. We took it up a notch."

Christina DeMattheis noted that the noise level in the gym rose as the game wore on.

"We had to pick it up," she said. "All of us played together. Our bench was insane. Their crowd was loud. It was hard to hear."

As of Dec. 29, Morristown-Beard was 6-0 after capturing the title at the Joe Pepe Tournament at Jonathan Dayton. The Crimson are driven, trying to complete "unfinished business," a phrase put in place by one of their senior captains, Gianna Rella. Monaghan racked up 18 points in the holiday tournament final to earn MVP honors. She had 13 in the opener vs. Linden. 

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Hoftijzer OT goal lifts Morristown

MORRISTOWN _ The typical high school freshman athlete most often is a combination of uncertainty, raw talent and, sometimes, hesitation, willing to defer to upperclassmen.

Morristown forward/midfielder Britt Hoftijzer is just the opposite. The Colonials' standout ninth grader has started every game this fall and, according to coach Katherine DeBiasse, "always makes smart decisions."

Hoftijzer's talent, poise and ability to analyze and capitalize played a large role in Morristown's 3-2 overtime victory over Montclair in the North Jersey Section 1, Group IV final on Thursday, Nov. 1.

With 2:03 remaining in overtime, Hoftijzer, who moved with her family to the United States from the Netherlands 10 months ago, knocked in the decisive goal, helping the Colonials notch their third consecutive sectional title, this one under DeBiasse, a first-year head coach.

"This is amazing," Hoftijzer said. "It's an amazing job by the team. We all played so well together. I'm very happy. It was exciting to score in a game that is really important."

Nervous at crunch time? Not at all. The jitters were long gone by then.

"I'm nervous 24 hours before games," Hoftijzer said. "I step on the field and they go away. I play with all I've got. I try my best."

Morgan Mastracchio, who assisted on the gamewinner, and Hoftijzer celebrated in front of the goalcage before the rest of the team, led by Olivia Graham, raced over to join in.

"For Britt being a freshman... She's a great asset," Graham said. "Field hockey is very big over in the Netherlands. Britt is soooooo good."

Hoftijzer's goal was a result of her ability to detect an opening.

"I saw space," she said, recounting her thought process leading up to the score. "The (Montclair) goalie had the long corner but not the short one. I usually pull to the right."

DeBiasse noted that Hoftijzer has "one of the hardest shots I've seen during my time at Morristown."

"Britt has got a gift," DeBiasse said. "Not only that but she's a nice person, a nice kid. She fit right in. She's coachable. She's goofy. She talks to everyone. Britt knows the game and makes smart decisions. I'm thankful for a player with skills like that."

Hoftijzer began attending school in Morristown in January after her family moved from Arnhem, a city of 156,600 in the eastern part of the Netherlands. The Hoftijzers came to the U.S. because her mother took a job with Merck. She has been playing field hockey since the age of 4 and was a member of high-level teams in her native country.

Morristown, which will meet Bridgewater-Raritan in a Group IV semifinal on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. at Boonton High School, has been rejuvented since falling to Madison in overtime in the MCT semifinals.

"We were really upset about the MCT but we bounced back," Graham said. "Things have been completely different. Our passing, our energy, not only at practice but overall, keep going up."

The two teams alternated goals with the Colonials getting on the scoreboard first. Graham scored 4:32 into the opening period off a corner. Montclair evened the score when Elizabeth Haefeli pushed the ball into the goalcage. Indira Summerville put Morristown (12-5-2) in front, converting 4:05 into the second half. The Mounties received a goal from Sosi Korian with 12:43 remaining for 2-2. Before Korian scored, the Colonials fended off five corner attempts.

"The girls put their hearts on the field every game," DeBiasse said. "They deserve this."

It was the first sectional crown with DeBiasse at the helm. DeBiasse, who hails from Brooklyn, N.Y., took over for Diane DeSalvo, who headed the Morristown program for 33 years. She became a volunteer assistant in 2013 and served as junior varsity coach from 2014-2017. DeBiasse felt that the transition went smoothly.

"The girls knew me because I coached many of them on the JV level," she said. "They were familiar with me and we discussed things. It was an easier transition than bringing in a totally new person."

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Wolfpack headed to sectional final

WASHINGTON TWP. (Morris) _ After taking a 1-0 lead 2:37 into the opening half, West Morris was feeling good about itself.

The Wolfpack, no doubt, was in a giddy state after extending that advantage to 2-0 with 10 minutes remaining before halftime. However, at the break, coach Courtney Barnett suggested her squad take it down a few notches emotionally and continue to play hard.

West Morris heeded Barnett's advice and did both, allowing it to survive a late penalty-stroke goal by Wayne Valley and emerge a 2-1 winner in a North Jersey Section 1, Group III semifinal on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

"Being up 2-0 is the most dangerous lead," said Barnett, whose Wolfpack gained a berth in the sectional title game for the third consecutive season. "That's why we talked. Teams become complacent. I really felt we needed another one in the first half. I knew Wayne Valley would fight back and put some pressure on us. They didn't get to the semifinals by chance."

And, just as Barnett anticipated, the Indians weren't done. Wayne Valley edged closer, 2-1, when Kaitlyn McNutt converted off a penalty stroke, awarded because the ball hit off a defender's foot, with 1:13 remaining, putting a scare into the Wolfpack (15-3-2). From there, the Indians, injected with confidence, tried to go back into West Morris' end but the home team was unyielding.

"We have to remember to play the whole game, not a certain half," said Wolfpack left wing Jenna Leonhardt. "We've got to be all in for the whole game."

Sophomore Sophia Prata, the right wing and scorer of West Morris' first goal, agreed that the late goal jarred her and her teammates.

"Maybe we did get a little complacent," Prata said. "The game is over when the clock runs out, not when we're up by two or three goals."

The Wolfpack will have to keep that in mind on Thursday, Nov. 1 when they clash with Warren Hills, which is aiming for its seventh straight sectional crown. West Morris, whose last sectional championship was in 2012, fell to Warren Hills in 2016 and 2017 and will need to toil for a full 60 minutes.

Versus Wayne Valley, the Wolfpack came out strong as Prata connected off a corner. Caroline Compoli sent the ball to the left post from the top of the circle and Leonhardt touched it on the goal line before Prata knocked it in. Leonhardt followed up her assist with a goal. Again, Compoli initiated the scoring sequence with a powerful shot on goal. Leonhardt cut through the circle and jabbed the ball into the right corner, just out of the reach of the Indians' diving goalie.

"It was 1-0 and I was eager to score," Leonhardt said. "I don't like when it's that close."

The Wolfpack, who graduated five starters, are relishing the opportunity to go up against Warren Hills again. West Morris feels as if it was underestimated in the preseason.

"We took everything to heart," Prata said. "We worked 10 times harder to prove everyone wrong. To win this game is so cool. We played with so much heart. It's because of the girls we play on the team with. We play for each other and it brings us closer."

Leonardt, too, feels that West Morris is exactly where it should be.

"We were underdogs at the beginning of the season," she said. "We belong here. We can stick around and win. I'm excited about the final. We've got to play to win and not to lose."

It was more than Prata and Leonhardt. Junior Alex Belen was a force at right back. Belen made an interception in West Morris' end at the 16-yard line and took the ball 14 yards. That was critical, as the Wolfpack would soon tally their second goal. Sweeper Maddie Ligos was praised by Barnett for "being composed with the ball and making key stops." Ligos thrived under pressure.

"I think scoring early was really important," Barnett said. "That was big for us. We set the tempo in the first half and that helped us a lot."

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Third Morris XC title for Rams' Loveys

PARSIPPANY _ Julia Trethaway of West Morris knows the exact point when Randolph's Abby Loveys began seriously widening the gap.

"It was after the first mile. Abby went ahead there," said Trethaway, a junior.

After that, Loveys remained in Trethaway's sight most of the time but became smaller and smaller as she traversed the course at Central Park on the way to a record-shattering first-place finish at the Morris County Girls Cross Country Championship on Tuesday, Oct. 23.

It was exactly what Loveys, the senior who finished in a course and meet record time of 17:07.47, wanted. The title was the third consecutive one for Loveys, who ran a 17:26.98 to finish atop the field at the NJAC Large Schools Championship a week earlier.

"I was feeling really good," Loveys said. "The weather was fine. It's a perfect day. The course wasn't muddy so it was faster. I went out hard and wanted to see what I could do. We were going after the team title. We got second place but that's OK. It's tough to go on all cylinders all the time."

Loveys, however, seems to be able to consistently perform at a high level. Her victory puts her in an elite class. Only two other girls - Kristen Hall of West Morris and Mackenzie Barry of Mendham - have won three Morris County Championships.

"It's an honor," Loveys said. "Morris County has a lot of good runners every year. There's always great competition."

Loveys was the only girl to complete the race in under 18 minutes. Trethaway crossed the finish line in 18:01.03. Montville's Anna George was third in 18:46.74 and Laura Green of Mount Olive clocked a 18:46.74 for fourth.

Mendham, whose top finisher was Madison Orlins (fifth place, 18:52.04), claimed top team honors with a score of 71. Randolph was second with 95 points and was followed by Villa Walsh. Also contributing to the scoring for the Minutemen were Megan Timoney, Grace Vives, Shannon Timoney, Kaitlin Vazquez, Ava Augustine and Ava Curry.

Cheering on Loveys was a large contingent of family. Their presence, she said, was helpful.

"It was rewarding to have them here," she said. "Everyone on our team was cheering, too."

Trethaway, fourth in the Morris County Girls Cross Country Championship last fall, was a bit disappointed as she did not get the time she wanted but noted that it would motivate her for upcoming sectionals. She planned to go out hard as well.

"I'm not good at hanging on," Trethaway said. "I go off how I feel and I felt pretty good. I worked the uphills. I had to pace myself after Abby went out ahead. She was definitely in the distance for most of the race.The first mile is a gradual downhill so it's easy to glide. The second mile is an adrenalin rush.

"I love racing against Abby. She's tough to beat. It's never like I say 'I'll just let her go.' I push for as long as I can."

The sectionals are on Trethaway's mind now.

"I'm going to unleash there," she said. "My time was just not what I wanted. I'm already pumped, I can do so much better."

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Madison tops Mo-Beard in MCT final

BOONTON _ Madison's last two Morris County Field Hockey Tournament championships have had distinct feels to them.

Last year's theme was dominance as the Dodgers outscored their MCT opponents, 23-2. The 23rd MCT championship, attained with a 4-3 win over Morristown-Beard on Tuesday, Oct. 16, was markedly different as Madison had to come from behind in the semifinals and survive a late surge in the title game.

None of the drama the top-seeded Dodgers, sparked by Kerrianne McClay's hat trick in the final, dealt with over the last four days mattered. Their only concern was being the last team standing.

"Perseverance. That's the word," said McClay, who scored Madison's first, third and fourth goals and earned offensive MVP honors. "The semifinal against Morristown was stressful. Tonight's game was close. Winning the title was exciting. It was really great. It hasn't sunk in yet. Maybe tomorrow it will or maybe the next day."

Morristown-Beard, seeded third, had a late surge, scoring two goals in the last 1:16. Kaitlyn Tartaglione connected with 1:16 remaining, leaving the Crimson trailing, 4-2. The most surreal - and scary moment for Madison - of the championship game occurred just 50 seconds later when Morristown-Beard's Sam Hutchinson received the ball off a corner and sent it 15 yards in the chilly night air into the right side of the goalcage. 

"For me, getting that goal meant we still had a chance to tie it up," said Hutchinson, a senior defender. "Maybe we could get another and go to overtime. Maybe we could win. We definitely showed our heart. It was a team effort. We didn't give up. We never stopped running."

The aerial play is one that Hutchinson and the Crimson practice often. They've had success with it in one other game this season.

"We've been working to perfect it," Morristown-Beard coach Kate Alderman said. "To execute that was terrific. The girls wanted it. We really did have a lot of heart. A few more minutes... I'm incredibly proud."

Madison junior back Emma Yousey said that Madison (13-2) had "a little letdown" over the last few minutes.

"We reassured each other. We looked at the time and there wasn't much left," Yousey said. "We needed to hold them off. It was frustrating when Morristown-Beard scored those goals."

Soon after, the Dodgers were reveling in their 23rd MCT title, their sixth in seven years. Madison has claimed 11 of the last 13 championships.

"This is just crazy," said Yousey. "We wanted to do it for the seniors. The Morristown game was really hard. We got pretty emotional. We didn't have Elizabeth (Romano) and some other great players this year and overcame the predictions. The juniors and seniors came together. We worked on our chemistry. We had to work as a unit."

McClay, a senior, put forth an exceptional effort. She scored 4:30 into the game off a corner, staking the Dodgers to a 1-0 lead. Emma Meister had the assist. Alexa Slabaugh, on the post, took a pass from Chase Cmaylo and tipped the ball in 13:20 before halftime.

The Dodgers made it 3-0 thanks to McClay's second goal 8:16 into the second half. For that score, McClay dribbled into the circle and dodged several opposing players before unleashing an on-target shot. The Crimson got on the scoreboard with 10:30 remaining when Kaitlyn Tartaglione put the ball across the goal line. McClay completed her hat trick with yet another forceful shot, teaming up with Meister again on a corner midway through the second half to increase Madison's advantage to 4-1.

Jesslyn Patricia of Morristown-Beard was recognized as the defensive player of the game.

Crimson, Dodgers prevail in MCT semis

BOONTON _ Wonderful. Fantastic. Ridiculous.

Those were the words that spilled out of Nicole Borowiec's following Morristown-Beard's 3-1 victory over Parsippany in a Morris County Field Hockey Tournament semifinal at Boonton High School on Saturday, Oct. 13.

Borowiec, a senior forward, was speaking rapidly, anxious to join her Crimson teammates in their extended celebration of the triumph that vaulted them into their first MCT final and to get to the homecoming festivities back at school. Borowiec was clutch in the first semifinal, scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal 3:42 before halftime to snap a 1-1 deadlock.

"We were very prepared," Borowiec said. "We deserve to play in the final. Parsippany put up a great fight. This is impressive for us. No one expects things like this from a small school. We want it badly. We have a lot of skill and we practice hard. I'll sacrifice homecoming for this. I'm really excited for us."

It was the second consecutive semifinal appearance for Morristown-Beard, which will meet top-seeded and defending champion Madison, a 3-2 victor over Morristown in overtime thanks to Isabella Fragomeni's goal. Last fall, the Crimson were shut out, 3-0, by Morristown but turned in a strong all-out effort and wanted more.

"I'm really happy for the girls," Crimson coach Kate Alderman said. "Everything clicked early for us. We're relatively young but there are great dynamics on and off the field. It's an exciting time."

Parsippany, which stunned second-seeded West Morris a day before, opened the scoring, receiving a goal from Kaitlyn Fang, on the post, 13:24 into the game, jarring Morristown-Beard. Five minutes, two seconds later, the Crimson evened the score when freshman Emma Karrat converted.

"That was a bit of a wakeup call," said Borowiec, referring to Fang's goal. "We needed to calm down. We weren't frazzled but it. We knew we could get it back."

Borowiec dodged several players before sending a shot into the left side of the goalcage from a foot inside the right side of the circle. Joelle Russomanno capped the scoring for Morristown-Beard, connecting with 6:08 remaining in the game off a corner after picking up a pass from Borowiec. Sam Hutchinson initiated the scoring play, inserting the ball on a corner.

"It took us awhile to warm up, for sure," Alderman noted. "We needed (Parsippany to score first). It motivated us. From that point on, we passed well and clicked as a team."

Hutchinson, a senior co-captain and center back, excelled on defense and offense for the Crimson. Left back Sarah Williams had a busy afternoon and was effective in keeping Parsippany from dominating on the right side of the field.

The Red Hawks were energized and looking to post another upset. Fang's goal made it seem like a possibility.

"That goal was great but I wasn't sure we could sustain it," Parsippany coach Rebecca Lilienthal said. "Morristown-Beard is tough. You can't give them opportunities. We couldn't hang in there for the whole game but our kids played hard. It's difficult to have the momentum back to back to back. I liked our girls' heart. We never gave up."

Juniors Alyssa Gallagher and Michelle Ebel each had a goal-line save and were just two of the Red Hawks' many standouts.

Morristown-Beard's players arrived back at school in time to take in the part of the football game and the homecoming festivities as well as share their accomplishment with their classmates and fans.

"I am really, really happy," Borowiec said before dashing off to the bus.

Fragomeni, who transferred from Mountain Lakes her junior year, had a goal for Madison in last year's title game but the one she had versus the Colonials in this season's semifinals was likely the high point of her scholastic career. Fragomeni, a senior forward committed to Old Dominion, simply decided "I'm ending this. It's over."

She gained control of the ball on the right side of the circle and sent the ball into the left side of the goalcage 4:20 into the extra period. There was absolutely no hesitation when she got the ball on her stick. Fragomeni, who "tends to play with the ball," according to Dodgers coach Ann Marie Davies, immediately unleashed the shot that would result in the decisive goal. The ball eluded Morristown goalie Emily Prachthauser, who had an exceptional game, making an abundance of key saves.

"I sometimes look to pull it," Fragomeni admitted. "Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn't. I do it so the team has time to run up."

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Cougars run MCT streak to six

RANDOLPH _ Chatham's Sydney Berkson and Emma Sheldon were sweating through a first set tie-breaker at second doubles when players began finishing their matches during the Morris County Girls Tennis Tournament finals.

Berkson and Sheldon consider every point, every match, important but had no idea how critical their match was until they prevailed, 7-6 (7-3), 6-0, over Morristown-Beard's Sophia Maney and Emma Duffy and their coach, James Cai, approached them.

"High five," a smiling Cai said, putting his right hand up. "You just won the county title."

The Cougars' sixth consecutive championship, attained on Sunday, Sept. 23 at County College of Morris, was extremely satisfying because it was so hard fought. Berkson and Sheldon, along with second doubles player Libby White, were the only ones from Chatham to advance to the finals. Berkson and Sheldon's triumph allowed the Cougars to edge out second-place Morristown by one point, 17-16.

Kinnelon and Morristown-Beard tied for third with 15 points apiece. Mountain Lakes was next with 14 so it was actually a good thing that Berkson and Sheldon didn't know what was going on with the team scores.

"We came here so nervous," said Berkson, a sophomore. "After warmups, we were confident and got more focused. The first set was difficult. I thought, 'Whoa, what's going on?' during the tie-breaker. I didn't think it would be easy... It was getting frustrating. In the second set, they were wearing out. I couldn't believe it was 6-0."

"It was so close," Sheldon, a senior, noted. "We know that every single point counts. We had to miss as little as possible. One by one, everyone was leaving (the courts). There have been times when we've been the last ones on the court but... We had to power through. We had tunnelvision. It was better if we didn't know if the team was winning or losing. We just kept a positive attitude and played as hard as we could."

Berkson, who has been striving to be more consistent and to improve her mindset, exhibited strong backhand strokes. First serves were Sheldon's forte. The duo was very pleased by their second doubles crown because this is their first season on varsity.

"We play well together," Sheldon said. "We bring each other up. We heard the cheering and kept a positive attitude."

Kinnelon senior Britany Lau garnered her third straight first singles crown, dispatching Hannah Blake of Morristown-Beard, 6-1, 6-0. Lau, who went up 4-0 in the first set, relied on solid serves and solid play at the net.

"I can't think of exact words to describe this," Lau said. "I'm very lucky and very excited. I got to represent my school in this tournament for another year. I focused on every point and came to the net often. I put away a lot there. I moved through the court more."

Lau, of course, was in a familiar environment, having played many of her matches at CCM over the last three years. She was delighted for freshman teammate Claire Zhang, who topped Chatham's Libby White, 6-0, 6-0, to finish atop the field at second singles.

"I've played challenge matches with Claire and hit with her," Lau said. "Having her win at second singles is big for our school. She's similar to me - very focused on her game, consistent, fast. Claire is crafty with her hands."

Zhang, introduced to tennis at the age of 7 by a neighbor, planned to be aggressive and "put a little more on my serve." She was anxious at first during the final but quickly settled in.

"It feels really good," Zhang said. "I've never been in a tournament this big."

Kinnelon coach John Cataldi, naturally, was proud of Lau and Zhang.

"What they did is awesome," Cataldi said. "Both of them were on their games for the entire tournament. They are consistent and dedicated and have a passion for the sport. They have great personalities and are leaders on and off the court. Both girls needed mininal coaching. I spoke to each of them once (in the finals). They were calm, cool and collected the entire time."

Maddie Siegel of Morristown defeated Montville's Amy Zheng, 6-2, 6-2, to take the third singles title. At first doubles, Mountain Lakes' Megan Matiwsky and Alexis Buchanan beat Isabella Galinkin and Alex Fisher, 6-4, 6-1.

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Cmaylo's two goals drive Madison

MADISON _ Chase Cmaylo had no problem getting the job done as a sophomore, racking up 15 goals and nine assists for Madison.

This fall, though, Cmaylo has admittedly been a little off. Nothing's changed for the junior forward. She simply couldn't convert.

On Friday, Sept. 21, Cmaylo rediscovered her scoring touch and put the ball in the goalcage not once, but twice, in the second half to power the Dodgers to a 2-1 non-conference victory over Warren Hills.

"I think that may have brought some momentum to the team," said Cmaylo, whose second and third goals were assisted by Kerrianne McClay. "We weren't really frustrated but I, we, really wanted to score. We took more chances after the first goal today."

For 44:23, the teams engaged in an even battle. Madison did not get out to an impressive start but quickly righted itself versus Warren Hills, the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex champion and Group III runnerup. Each team was in command for short periods of time. When Madison ventured into the Blue Streaks' territory, it was typically with McClay leading the charge. Thirteen minutes after halftime, Warren Hills had two of their seven second-half corners but Madison's defenders made sure scoring plays didn't materialize.

Cmaylo got the Dodgers (6-1) on the scoreboard 14:23 into the second half after picking up a rebound following a shot by McClay. She took two steps and sent the ball into the right side of the goalcage. Cmaylo's second goal was four minutes later. McClay had the assist again. This time, a scramble ensued after McClay took a shot on goal. Cmaylo sent the ball left and a Warren Hills defender missed the clear.

Madison coach Ann Marie Davies was glad to see Cmaylo knock the ball in and noted she "was due."

"We didn't get down when there was no score," said sweeper Sarah Cox, one of the standouts on defense for Madison. "We played well. We pumped each other up. We were in beast mode. We didn't have much energy when we came out then we began to play with heart and to play together."

Cox played the right post for the defensive corner unit and said it "was a little bit intimidating."

"We needed to be strong minded and get the ball out," she said. "We were aggressive in the circle. You have to go big or go home."

The 2-0 advantage seemed to be enough but Warren Hills (5-2-1) struck back, getting a goal from Juliana Valli with 7:28 remaining. Prior to the Blue Streaks' goal, there were more tense moments for the Dodgers as Warren Hills attempted three corners in a span of two minutes. Madison repelled each one successfully.

"This was a hard-earned win," Davies said. "The kids played well under pressure. We picked it up (after a slow start). We figured out how to get the ball through and figured out their system. They had one kid hanging back."

Davies praised goalie Nicole Ducey (8 saves), Cox and Margaret Sheeleigh. According to Davies, Sheeleigh was "everywhere" and her hustle had a major impact on the outcome of the game.

"We played with a lot of heart," Cox said. "This is going to be a turning point. I'm proud of our team,"

"This is a sneak peek into what the rest of the season will be like," Cmaylo said.

***PHOTO GALLERY BELOW***

Freshmen spark Randolph

RANDOLPH _ Carly Snarski made the pitch to Lexi Campbell and the Randolph senior wasn't going to take no for an answer.

"You have to play field hockey," said Campbell, recalling Snarski's plea. "You have to. You need to try it. It'll be fun."

It didn't take long for Campbell, a freshman, to commit to the Rams' program. The two knew each other through the New Jersey Colonials Girls Ice Hockey Program and Snarski felt Campbell could easily transfer her skills from the ice to the turf.

Campbell, as expected, made great strides in a few weeks and scored the first goal of her varsity career early in the opening half when Randolph edged Mendham 2-1 in NJAC-American Division action on Saturday, Sept. 8. Another talented freshman, Sarah Bona, converted two minutes later for the Rams, who returned only three starters from last year's squad that went 15-4-3.

The win was the first of the season for Randolph, which suffered losses to Montclair and West Morris before rebounding with the victory over the Minutemen.

"We had one of our best practices yesterday," Rams coach Gina Adickes said. "It was super intense. The girls were cutting hard and hustling every second. I think it fed into today's warmup and game."

Friday's practice featured a knee-tap drill designed to improve the players' footwork and force them to get low. No sticks were used. The objective of the drill is to step forward and reach. Randolph also honed its long-distance passing. If a ball was missed and rolled onto the track, the Rams had to do sprints.

"The girls backed each other up. They were supportive," Adickes said. "I think they felt like 'The harder I work...'"

Randolph (1-2) was certainly charged up from the start. The 5-foot-2 Campbell, a right wing/midfielder, sent the ball across the goal line 3:03 into the game after receiving a pass from Olivia Meyers. Two minutes and three seconds later, Bona recorded her second goal, putting the Rams up, 2-0. Campbell had the assist.

Kristine Lynch initiated the scoring sequence that culminated in Campbell's score. Lynch sent the ball down the right side to Snarski. Meyers then received it and passed to Campbell, a center in ice hockey. Campbell, in the middle of the circle, fired into the right side.

"It was extremely exciting," Campbell said of her first goal. "It was kind of a rush. It was awesome."

Bona, who stands out because she is 5 foot 10, considered cross country because she enjoys running but went with field hockey. Her reasoning?

"I did field hockey clinics in the past and liked it," Bona said. "I wasn't sure about cross country. I used to play soccer. I was a goalie and didn't like that because I like to run. Field hockey is a team sport and it feels like a family. I'm learning so much from my teammates."

Marissa Biancone had a hand in Campbell's goal, setting things in motion with a through ball. Bona got her stick on it, got past several defenders and put the ball through the goalie's legs.

"I wasn't expecting it. It was really exciting," said Bona, who plans to play basketball and take part in spring track.

After dominating in the first half, Randolph played a great deal of defense after the break. Mendham (0-1) frequently surged into the Rams' territory with hopes of drawing even. The Minutemen broke through when forward Lily Weeks scored with 9:02 remaining. The Rams did not make a shot in the second half.

"We were sleeping at the beginning," Mendham coach Breanne Neff said. "Overall, we've been doing a good job but we weren't finding each other today. We weren't working together."

Senior back Emma Marks was exceptional for the Minutemen, doing what Neff called "an amazing job and stepping up when we needed her."

Meyers excelled in the midfield for Randolph. Previously, Meyers, a senior, was the left wing. She notched 17 goals last fall. Eve Guttman was effective as the Rams' sweeper.

***PHOTO GALLERY BELOW*** 

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