Chatham wins MCT semifinal for Ford

By Sandy Seegers

 Morriscountylacrosse
 
MOUNTAIN LAKES — The last place Chatham wanted Lindsay Ford to be was on the sideline watching.

But that’s where Ford, a captain, was on Saturday, two days after breaking her jaw.

The third-seeded Cougars, understandably, were a little more charged up than usual going into Saturday’s Morris County Girls Lacrosse Tournament semifinal against No. 2 Mountain Lakes, wanting to put forth a stellar effort for Ford.
 
Defending champion Chatham, behind four goals and an assist by junior midfielder Jaclyn Leto, succeeded in making Ford proud, edging the Lakers, 7-6. The victory means Chatham will defend its title against Mendham in a rematch of last year’s championship game. The teams will square off Wednesday night on the turf at Roxbury High School

Liz Hyde, a junior, connected for what proved to be the game-winning goal with 10:37 left, putting the Cougars up, 7-5.

“Lindsay is one of our major players,’’ Leto said of Ford, a low defender. “She’s been a leader since the start of the season. She’s a big part of the team. We were playing for her.’’

Chatham’s Lindsey Ford, who sat out Saturday’s MCT game, is surrounded by teammates that put her number on their wrists. (Photo courtesy of Karen Fucito)

Making the victory more impressive was that Chatham (12-3) rallied from a 5-4 deficit. Leto had a goal to bring the Cougars even with 17:54 left then put them on top, 6-5, a little less than four minutes later. For her third goal of the game, Leto broke free of her defender in the eight and converted a pass from senior midfielder Kelsey Perselay. Perselay was on the assist side again when Leto scored on a free position.

“We weren’t going to give up,’’ Leto said. “We wanted this win badly.’’

Hyde followed with her goal, also on a free position, at 10:37.

Chatham’s Jaclyn Leto (46) scored four goals to help the Cougars return to the MCT final. Photo courtesy of Karen Fucito.

Mountain Lakes (8-5) fought back on a goal by senior midfielder Grace Newfrock with 5:48 remaining. Beyond that, Chatham maintained possession of the ball, frustrating the Lakers, whose three-game winning streak was halted.

“The girls played great,’’ Cougars coach Deb Marriott said. “We played as a team. We were a little sloppy at times but my players definitely had each other’s backs.’’
 
Mountain Lakes already prevailed against Chatham this spring, coming out on top, 7-6, in its opener. Lakers coach Jen Munday, well-aware of the heated rivalry that developed back in the days when she played for the Lakers, anticipated another competitive game.

Munday, naturally, was disappointed. It wasn’t the entire game. The last 5:48 bothered her most.

“We should’ve been denying at the end and we didn’t do that,’’ Munday said. “We didn’t take care of the ball.Chatham did. I don’t like losing. No one does. We lost to a good team with good coaches. I wish them the best of luck.’’

Leto’s dominant performance didn’t surprise Munday, who coached her for the Steps Elite Club.

“Jaclyn gets it done,’’ Munday said. “She does everything. She gets ground balls. She puts the ball in the net.’’

Chatham’s Liz Hyde makes a move to the cage during Saturday’s MCT game. (Photo courtesy of Karen Fucito)

Kate Murphy and Lauren Maiorano also scored goals for Chatham. Perselay finished with three assists. Junior attack Ingrid Hermanson registered a pair of goals for the Lakers, including the one that made it 5-4. Casey Drollinger, Hallie Walker and Victoria Kalamaras had additional goals for Mountain Lakes.

Cougars’ goalie Hannah Reader had eight saves while Lakers goalie Carly Gniewek had nine.

“We worked hard when we fell behind,’’ Leto said. “It was important to get possession and get more goals. At the end, we had to work together to keep possession.’’

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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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