MONTVILLE _ Sophia Holt and Brenna Wilson have always been very well connected. They turned the chemistry they have into something special in the 2017 Morris County Girls Lacrosse Final.
Holt scored off a Wilson pass with 14 seconds left in overtime to lift Mountain Lakes to a 9-8 triumph over Chatham in the title game on Saturday, May 6 at Montville High School.
Faith Reilly fired a hat trick and Holly Smith and Holt had two goals apiece for the Lakers, who defended last year's championship despite being the fourth seed this year.
Lauren Sammarro was named Tournament MVP because of her superior work on the draw. The Lakers rallied from an 8-6 deficit in the final six minutes. Kimmy Jenkins scored the game-tying goal with 3:55 left in regulation.
Zoe Kraus and Frances Workman scored two goals apiece for second-seeded Chatham (9-6).
Mountain Lakes defeated Kinnelon, West Morris and top-seeded Morristown to advance to the title game. It is the second consecutive year that Mountain Lakes defeated Chatham in the Morris County Tournament title game in overtime. Last year, the Lakers were 7-6 victors.
"It's amazing,'' Jenkins said. "We are the No. 4 seed and we totally upset everyone. No one was expecting us to win and here we are.''
Holt, who is a sophomore, was happy to be able to win the game for the seniors.
"It feels great,'' Holt said. "I remember the feeling (of winning) last year and it was unreal. I remember being on the field last year. I can't explain it. It is probably the best feeling I've had in my entire life.''
Chatham won the overtime draw and had control of the ball for 1:40 before turning it over. The Lakers called a timeout to set up the winning play.
"We just wanted to calm the kids down, make sure we kept possession and took our time,'' Mountain Lakes coach Paul Larsen said. "We also set up the offense we wanted to run.
"We tried to set up an offense where we had four drivers in a box. The drive didn't materialize from the top so we passed it down low. Sophia was part of the middle group and she decided to go for the goal. She and Brenna are tight friends and they are magic when they work together.''
Holt's shot was off the whole game and she was looking for one more opportunity to put it in the net.
"We didn't have that much time left on the clock,'' Holt said. "I knew we had to go. Sarah Monteleone set a pick for me and I saw the lane. Me and Brenna Wilson have had chemistry the entire year. She saw me cutting, fed it to me and I took my shot.''
Chatham goalie Kat Friday is strong low so Holt's righty shot found its mark high on the left side.
"I was really shocked,'' Holt said. "I was missing my shots the entire game and really waiting for that shot. I'm happy that was the one to win it.''
Mountain Lakes (6-9) started the season by losing its first six games. The sixth loss was an 8-7 home defeat at the hands of Chatham which trailed the whole game until prevailing in the final minutes. The lessons learned were not lost on the Lakers.
"The game came with revenge,'' Jenkins said. "It forced us to work harder and to prove to them that we could get back for this.''
One reason for the victory was the performance of Sammarro on the draw. She was able to place a majority of the draws so teammates like Jenkins would get a better opportunity to get to the ground balls and give the Lakers possessions.
"This is the first game we've won the draw controls -- the first game all season,'' Larsen said. "She did a heck of a job on the draws.''
The Lakers also made a major adjustment on defense, switching from man-to-man defense to a backer zone that made it difficult for the Cougars to execute.
"Our defense is really tough,'' Holt said. "We knew we had to change it up and that's exactly what we did.''
Chatham jumped off to an early 2-0 lead in the first six minutes of the game before Mountain Lakes countered with a four-goal run. Holly Tietjen's score with eight minutes remaining in the half made it 4-2. The teams exchanged goals but the Cougars connected in the final five seconds on a score by Kraus to make it a one-goal game at the half.
A Reilly score four minutes into the second half helped the Lakers to a 6-4 advantage. Then it was Chatham's turn to rally with three consecutive goals. When Lizzy O'Neil connected on a free position goal that bounced off Mountain Lakes' goalie Kelsey Thompson's stick and into the net, that gave Chatham a 7-6 lead with 9:54 left in regulation.
The Lakers made a big defensive stand when Holt and Jenkins were given back-to-back yellow cards. A few minutes later, Workman did put Chatham up two scores on a righty shot that found the top left corner with six minutes left.
Then it was Mountain Lakes' turn to rally. Mountain Lakes won the draw and Reilly would score her third goal of the game with 5:03 left to cut the deficit to one goal. Two minutes later, the Lakers connected again when Jenkins took a feed from Wilson and connected with a lefty shot to the right side of the net. Chatham had the ball for most of the final minutes of regulation but couldn't get a quality shot off. The Lakers braced for the overtime, and eventually got their chance to score.
"I'm just so happy for all the seniors,'' Holt said. "We had a tough start to our season with a bad record. We were just happy to be seeded fourth and beat all these really great teams.''