Streaking West Morris edges Madison

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

MADISON– West Morris’ Carly Shello doesn’t have much faith in her ability to win the draw but she does have plenty of confidence in her teammates to pick up the loose ball after the faceoff.

Shello’s ability to contest the draw and the determination of the West Morris defense in some crucial instances helped the Wolfpack to run their winning streak to five games with a 10-9 victory overMadisonon Monday.

Shello fed teammate Megan Monaco with a game-winning goal with 1:40 left in regulation for West Morris (5-3). Monaco had a hat trick and Emily Delaney knocked in a pair of goals for the Wolfpack.

Madison center Ali Helwig had three goals and Michelle Montegna and Amelia Murcott each scored twice forMadison (3-4).

The win was important for the Wolfpack which started the season on a 3-game losing streak and seems to be hitting their stride.

“With our schedule we need to get every win we can,’’ Shello said. “It was really important for us to make sure that we secured a win. We’re on a streak so it’s a big confidence booster to keep racking up those wins.’’

Madison’s Ali Helwig fights her way past West Morris defenders during Monday’s contest.

In lacrosse, gaining possessions can be crucial. The Dodgers looked like they may take control of the game at times especially due to Helwig’s ability to capture her own draws. Shello was filling in for starter Amy Ernst who missed the game due to a concussion. The versatile athlete won enough faceoffs to keep the Dodgers from dominating in the circle.

“I think my height was really the only thing that saved the draws today,’’ Shello said. “I’m not that good at taking them. I basically just pulled as hard as I could. I relied on my teammates on the circle to really win it for me.’’

Players like Monaco and tenacious midfielder Emily Delaney are capable of winning balls in the circle to give West Morris its share of possessions.

“We’re on our third center,’’ West Morris coach Rob Herman said. “Michaela (Domoratzky) was taking some too because Amy was out. It was just Carly’s height that made me choose her. ’’

The first half was a streaky affair. West Morris built leads of 3-1 and 6-3 only to see them melt away.Madison’s Ali Jago scored her only goal with 1:11 left to knot the game at 6-6. In the second half, there were four lead changes and three ties before West Morris earned its victory.

Because Shello couldn’t be consistently overpowered by Helwig or out-quickened byMadison’s other skillful center Emily Rutland, both teams had opportunities to score. West Morris rallied from a 9-8 deficit in the final five minutes by scoring the last two goals of the game and getting a stellar defensive play by Maggie Underdahl in the final seconds to secure the triumph.

After Murcot scored her second goal of the game with 5:34 left to giveMadisona one-goal lead, Herman called a timeout.

“We talked about how important the next draw was going to be,’’Monaco said. “We knew we really needed to step it up on the draw. If they got that, they were able to hold possession so we talked about winning the draw.’’

West Morris’ Michael Domoratzky and Madison’s Siobhan McCulloch make themselves as tall as they can in an attempt to catch a ball.

As it turned out, Madison won possession but turned the ball over. West Morris tied the game 9-9 on a free possession goal by Michaela Domoratzky with 3:10 remaining.

“She’s really stepped up a lot this year,’’ Shello said. “She’s been good at finishing a good percentage of her shots. It’s nice to see a junior come up and step it up.’’

The draw between Shello and Rutlandwas won byMadisonbut a Dodgers’ shot was stopped by West Morris keeper Chrissy Baffuto, who had nine saves in all. West Morris was able to work the ball up field and Shello was moving to the right of the cage when she sawMonacohad room to operate.

“I knew I could take the girl that was marking me so I had to capitalize on it and take it to goal,’’Monaco said. “We were spread out and I knew their girls wouldn’t be able to slide soon enough. There was a big enough gap that I could get around her.

“On the goalie, I usually I try to put in a fake before I shoot to move her, but I shot high most of the game. I put it upper right and had a good feeling about it.’’

A brilliant play by Underdahl, a senior defender, cemented the win. Madison won the subsequent faceoff but Underdahl was able to get enough of a check on Helwig, who was pushing to the cage, to knock the ball out of her stick. The senior defender recovered the ball and West Morris was able to push it up the field and avoid Madison’s attempts at double teaming in the final minute.

West Morris defender Erin Gutkind is chased by Madison’s Emily Rutland during Monday’s game.

“That was a huge play,’’ Shello said. “It was game-changer. Our defense is what really keeps our team together. Maggie is the only senior on (deep) defense right now so she really leads them and the midfield. She makes sure that everyone is in the right spot and it’s really nice to have such a vocal leader like her in such a key position.’’

Underdahl is a two-year defensive starter. Sophomore Alyssa Lamperti and junior Erin Gutkind are also rapidly improving starters on the team’s deep defense. The Wolfpack will have to continue to learn fast because they play an exceptionalChathamteam in their next contest.

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About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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