Madison topples Morris Catholic in MCT action

By Mark Kitchin Morriscountylacrosse

MADISON – The Madison girls have had plenty of nail-biting victories this year. On Saturday the Dodgers were desperate to have a game that they can win comfortably and gain a little confidence. Alli Helwig scored six goals and Emily Rutland was credited with four goals and seven assists in Madison’s 17-6 triumph over Morris Catholic in a Morris County Tournament opening round contest.

Elizabeth “Biz” Jago added a pair of goals for the Dodgers. The seventh-seeded team advances to play second-seeded Mountain Lakes in the next round. Courtney Talarico scored twice for 10th-seeded Morris Catholic.

The Crusaders were playing short-handed because of the holidays but only trailed 7-3 at halftime. Madison gradually pulled away in the second half because of superior numbers in a game that was played in constant drizzle on the turf field. Madison had beaten Morris Catholic earlier in the season. The Dodgers prevailed 8-7 on April 12. Saturday’s win not only helped in advancing in the tournament but also advancing the confidence of some of the Dodgers’ young players.

 

Madison’s Ali Jago makes her way to the cage during Madison’s win over Morris Catholic.

“When we start with a lead I think it helps us to just keep going,’’ Rutland said. “We’ve had six one-goal games. So it was nice to have that kind of success.’’

It’s been a cold and rainy spring and the Dodgers have played most of their games in conditions similar to the drippy Saturday game. Although the conditions are similar to both squads, it doesn’t make winning any easier.

“It loosens up your strings a lot which kind of messes up your throwing,’’ Helwig said. “The grip on your stick is a lot worse, too.

“To overcome it, you have to focus on the basics. Play lacrosse and do what you have been taught. You can’t change the conditions. You just play through it.’’

Helwig and Rutland both alternate on the draw depending on matchups. Although the sticks might be a little slippery as the game progresses, the Dodgers were able to adjust.

“The rain isn’t that much of a difference in the draw,’’ Helwig said. “”It’s not any more different than it is in dry weather. Both of us can either do self draw or we can place it to a different person. Depending on what the other team is doing, we will change up our draw.’’

Winning the draw was important for Madison’s plans to take the lead and build on it with possessions. Madison led from the beginning but couldn’t shake Morris Catholic early. Goalkeeper Shannon Sweeney had four first-half saves including a pair of clutch ones to keep the Crusaders from tying the game in spots.

It was a 4-3 contest at the seven-minute mark before Madison hit three consecutive goals to open up its lead. Amelia Murcott had a goal and Biz Jago notched a pair in the final two minutes to make it a 7-3 lead at the half.

“Biz is a fiery player,’’ Helwig said. “She has a really strong shot. She’s just always there to pick it up. She’s hit needed goals to get us fired up. She’s a real key player on the attack.’’

Madison’s Emily Rutland and Morris Catholic’s Courtney Talerico battle for the draw on Saturday.

At halftime, the Dodgers knew they would have to do better despite opening up a lead.

“Our coach told us that it was not over yet,’’ Rutland said. “We needed to get out in the second half with the same intensity and not let up at all.’’

Madison scored four of the next five goals including three of Helwig’s to start the second half. When Rutland scored just inside of the 20th minute, it gave the Dodgers an 11-4 advantage. It wasn’t time to celebrate yet but enough for the Dodgers to catch their breaths. Even though the season is half over, the Madison players are still settling into their roles.

“We definitely have a younger team this year,’’ Rutland said. “We graduated a lot of seniors from last year. We have a lot of freshmen stepping up and sophomores. We are young so were just learning how we play. It’s a whole new group of girls this year but were figuring out how were working well together.’’

After Talarico connected for Morris Catholic, Madison went on another three-goal run to take a 14-5 edge which cemented the triumph. The Dodgers have some tough games coming up on their schedule including neighboring Summit and of course Mountain Lakes, a team the Dodgers knocked out in state tournament play last year.

Saturday’s MCT scores: Mendham 15, Mount Olive 0; Mountain Lakes 15, Morristown-Beard 1; Morristown 6, Villa Walsh 4; Morris Knolls 18, Randolph 4; Chatham 17, Jefferson 4;

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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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