Before Morris Knolls knew what had hit them, Chatham Girls’ varsity lacrosse team had blitzed out to a commanding 8-0 lead with 13:16 left in the first half.
The Cougars (10-1) rode their indomitable offensive wave to a 19-7 victory over the Golden Eagles (8-4) in the quarterfinals of the Morris County Tournament Saturday afternoon at Haas Field.
“We have just really have evolved this season,” head coach Helen McCutcheon-Oliver said. “We came in with really high expectations. We had goals, obviously, to make it to the semifinals, and hopefully to the final on Saturday.”
Consider the first aspiration complete.
Oliver attributed the triumph to winning several draws and a balanced offensive attack, not to mention solid defensive play.
“We really had an awesome draw taker today. Maddie (Engelkraut) got a lot of draws, which allowed us to possess on offense,” she explained. “We got 14 kids between attack and midfield that are able to score, and we were able to spread that out to 19 goals for us, so (there was) a lot of offense,” with 12 different players registering markers.
After Chatham’s strong start, Morris Knolls answered back with two goals of its own. But senior Annie Hallahan found the back of the net to give the Cougars a 9-2 advantage with 8:53 remaining in the first half.
Chatham tacked on three more markers to widen its margin to 12-2 with a little more than four minutes to go in the half. Two more Golden Eagles’ goals, though, drew them to within 12-4 at the break.
However, the Cougars responded with four unanswered markers to put the game well out of reach at 16-4 with 20:00 to go in the contest.
Goals from seniors Stella Straka and Sophia Claps added to Chatham’s strong performance and helped the team advance to the semifinals Wednesday versus Mendham.
The Cougars’ Ashley Kiernan, another senior, and Straka scored four goals apiece, with the latter leading all players with five points. Senior Micky Kelly contributed three assists in the win, with junior Cameron McGlynn and sophomore Grace Hallahan chipping in with three points each.
Sophomore Addy Walker paced Morris Knolls with three points.
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— Jerry Del Priore