PARSIPPANY _ It was an unlikely but glorious run and it would be understandable if Parsippany Hills went into the 2016 state tournament trying to recreate last year's success.
Rarely do the Vikings mention the Group II and sectional titles they garnered after going into postseason play with four victories. Prior to their North Jersey Section 2, Group II quarterfinal on Thursday, Nov. 2, the magical season wasn't brought up.
Parsippany Hills, which opened the tourney with a 1-0 win over sister school Parsippany, the 10th seed, is operating under different circumstances so it is taking a new approach.
"No one really talks about last year," said first-year coach Stephanie Andolino. "We don't want to rest on that. We've been taking it game by game."
So, instead of harkening back, the Vikings, who received their lone goal from Lauren McLaughlin in the first half, charged one another up saying "Play for the seniors" and "Play for each other." They also yelled out "We want this!" prior to the game.
Then second-seeded Parsippany Hills simply got down to business. The Vikings did think back of a game versus the Red Hawks earlier this fall when they didn't communicate or pass very well. They had to keep a close eye on Parsippany standout Luisa Barone, who was up top rather than playing defense. McLaughlin, Sam Kievit and Rebecca Warner were assigned to Barone.
"Luisa is incredible," McLaughlin said. "She's super dangerous. It's tough to contain her."
"She's fast and is a top player," said Parsippany Hills junior center back Rebecca Warner. "We came in more organized. We couldn't let her have the ball."
The Vikings (10-8-3) had a passing game that flowed and kept chatting. Barone had her moments but Parsippany Hills continually denied her.
McLaughlin, a senior center midfielder, provided the game's only goal in the first half. McLaughlin had a throw-in from the corner an Lauren Geiger tapped the ball back to her. McLaughlin then curved the ball into the top left of the net.
That score would be be enough. The midfield, comprised of McLaughlin, Gabby Gilgorri and Sarah Costanza, was solid, moving the ball and controlling the action. The Vikings' senior goalie, Aytana Muschajew, was crucial to the win, finishing with 12 saves.
"We were better today than the last time we played Parsippany," Andolino said. "We were more aggressive and possessed the ball better. Aytana had another good game."
McLaughlin noted that once the Vikings, who had a bye in the opening round, got past the nerves associated with their first state tournament game, they were fine.
"We stayed composed," she said. "We kept the ball on the ground. There were definitely some nerves today. We're hoping to prove ourselves, show we deserve to win."
On Monday, Nov. 6, Parsippany Hills will host 11th-seeded Madison in a sectional semifinal. No. 4 Hanover Park will travel to top-seeded Livingston the same day.
"We're ready for our next game," Warner said. "This is all deja vu. We hope to keep it up."
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