MONTVILLE _ Alex Frenzel may not be the biggest player on the Chatham lacrosse team unless you are measuring heart.
Frenzel, a senior, not only put in a big performance on the draw but scored four goals and notched two assists. Her efforts were one of many reasons defending champion Chatham is back in the Morris County Tournament final for the third consecutive year.
Another reason? Zoe Kraus, who had five goals and two assists in Chatham's 20-12 victory over Mendham in the semifinal round of the MCT held at Montville High School on Thursday, May 5.
The defending champion Cougars will face Mountain Lakes for the third consecutive year in the title game on Saturday, May 7. The Cougars defeated the Lakers 7-6 in overtime last year.
Bridget Ballard had three goals and two assists and Beth Kuyk and Emily DeKeyzer each notched a pair of goals for the second-seeded Cougars. Christine Long had four goals and Meredith Curtin scored three times for the third-seeded Minutemen.
"It's amazing," Ballard said. "I am really excited to get back to county finals. We are all really excited and looking forward to it."
"It's good to be the type of program you see again and again in the final," Frenzel added. "That's the type of program we want to be. ... I knew we were going to be here. We have gotten so much better since the beginning of the season and I have so much faith in my team."
Chatham took charge early by scoring the first five goals of the game and setting the tone. Three of them were scored by Kraus with two of them set up by Ballard passes.
"It's always really important to get off to a fast start, especially against a good team like Mendham," Ballard said. "Our team is good at pushing the fast break and we've been working really hard at it in practice. Everyone did a good job and that's how we got a big lead on them."
Frenzel's work on the draw helped open up the lead. She directed the pulls, many against Long, a much taller player, and kept the Mendham standout from winning them outright. Frenzel shares the draw with several other player but she was most effective in the MCT semifinal versus Mendham.
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog," Frenzel said. "I know Bridget is there to back me up. Beth (Kuyk) is there to back me up. If it isn't me than it is one of them... I was trying to push it to Bridget and I was trying to box out and make them try to go over my back. It's more about strategy. If I'm not going to get the draw. She is not going to get it."
Frenzel had the technique and the footwork to create many of her team's opportunities early on. However, she admits it takes everyone on the circle to win the draws.
"None of the girls that take our draw are very tall so it's really a team effort," Frenzel said. "If you look at our draws, it's not just one person getting them. Abby Morgan is coming in from the attack line. It's Catherine (McNiff) on the side. It's Nicole (Weaving) on defense. It is everyone all over the field. That's what makes us really good."
Mendham finally broke through on a Curtin goal at 15:34. The closest they were able to cut the gap was on a Long goal with 2:57 left before halftime to make it 7-4.
However, the Cougars finished the half with a burst. Frenzel scored two of three consecutive goals, including an unassisted tally with 23 seconds left, to make it a 10-4 game.
Mendham got a score from Kolina Unger before the break. However, the momentum didn't carry over and Chatham maintained at least a five-goal margin the rest of the way.
Afterwards, the Cougars embraced what they thought was inevitable - a matchup with Mountain Lakes, a team they lost to 9-8 on April 1.
"To beat Mountain Lakes would be the dream because we lost to them in the first game," Ballard said. "They scored with 17 seconds left. It was horrible. We have so much fire in us and they are an amazing team with great talent and coaching. We've definitely grown a lot since then."
Mountain Lakes 16, Morristown 4
For the Lakers, it is the fourth consecutive year they have reached the MCT final and the third consecutive year they have faced the Cougars in the title game.
Morristown led 2-1 at the 15-minute mark before Mountain Lakes scored nine consecutive goals. Sarah Bedard, Avery Holland, Sarah Monteleone, Grainger Rosati, Faith Reilly and Haley Tietjen all connected to give the Lakers (11-2) an insurmountable 10-2 lead early in the second half.
Annika Begley, Nicole Ferrara, Rachel Langenohl and Callie Sundin each connected for the fifth-seeded Colonials, who dropped to 9-5.