Revenge is sweet for Chatham

By Mark Kitchin


CHATHAM– Calling it a reversal of lacrosse fortune would be putting it mildly. What Chatham did to Mendham less than 48 hours after the Morris County Tournament title game will certainly open eyes wherever they swing sticks in the Garden State.

Junior Kate Murphy scored four goals and Mary Kate O’Neill fired a hat trick to lift Chatham to a 14-3 victory over Mendham at Haas Field. Jaclyn Leto, Kelly Perselay and Kallan Murray added two goals apiece for the Cougars which also earned a division title with the triumph.

Aly Messinger fired a hat trick for Mendham which ended an 11-game winning streak. On Wednesday night, Mendham defeated Chatham 15-11 to win the Morris County Tournament title. The Cougars earned their revenge quickly, neatly and emphatically.

“Since we won last year’s county championship so we know how that feels,’’ Perselay said. “(On Wednesday) we felt that humiliation of losing and we felt like we didn’t deserve it. We wanted to make them feel how we felt in the county final.’’

Instead of feeling depressed during Thursday’s practice the Cougars came in with upbeat attitudes and revenge in their hearts. They were ready to work.

“Everyone was ‘let’s go’,’’ Murphy said. “We wanted redemption. We wanted revenge. It’s the sweetest thing.’’

“We wanted to prove to ourselves that we could beat Mendham. They are always our biggest rival every year. We get so pumped up for their games. It would have been a let down for us if we didn’t beat them once.’’

Kate Murphy launches one of her four goals in Chatham’s rout over Mendham on Friday

Mendham was without the services of standout Nicole Graziano due to an injury which may shelve her for the rest of the season. Defensively, Chatham took full advantage of her absence, subjecting her teammate Messinger to double and triple teams whenever she touched the ball near the net.

“She scored seven goals against us so we worked in practice how to slow her down,’’ Murphy said.

Chatham also worked on its draws. Perselay, who was relieved at center midway through the MCT final, stepped back in the circle with renewed confidence and her teammates went back to basics with special emphasis of limiting Messinger’s knack of snagging draw controls.

“I wanted it so badly. I was fearless,’’ Perselay said. “I knew I could use my height to my advantage and take (the ball) out of the air and the whole entire team was in on it. We have awesome ground ball specialists. We worked at boxing out.

“In practice we worked on cutting off Aly. Liz Hyde and Brittany Marriott worked on cutting her off on an angle. Liz and Brittany are awesome off the draw. So is Jaclyn (Leto).’’

Perselay and the Cougars won 12 of 18 draws. Once they took possession, Chathamwas relentless in going to the cage. Murphy had a career high for the Cougars, scoring three of the teams first five goals.

Winning the draw is huge as Chatham’s Kelsey Perselay and Mendham’s Morgan Holleran battle for the ball.

“I don’t think I ever did that in a game before,’’ Murphy said. “I was just getting good feeds. It really wasn’t me at all. People were looking up. They had their heads up in the eight-meter so I just took it in.’’

“Murph’s shot is the sickest thing I have ever seen in my entire life,’’ Perselay added. “I was so happy and so proud of her. … The first goal of the game she was so wide open. We made eye contact and I looked away like I wasn’t going to pass it to her but then … boom!’’

Another surprising source of offense was Mary Kate O’Neill. While Mendham focused their defense on top scorer Leto, the Cougars were finding other people to fill the nets. O’Neill, a junior, can score but is not usually considered among their top offensive threats.

“Mary Kate is a very timid player but she has an awesome shot,’’ Murphy said. “She will take it all day. In our practice in yesterday, she kept going and going. She had more confidence in it (today).’’


Mary Kate O’Neill (9), Kallen Murray (22) and Cat McCutcheon (37) celebrate a first-half Chatham goal.

The Cougars built a 5-0 lead in the first 20 minutes before Messinger connected for the first of Mendham’s three goals. Leto’s goal with 46 seconds left sent Chatham to a 7-1 halftime margin.

The second half was pretty much the same. Chatham scored four consecutive goals, starting with Lauren Maiorano’s goal just two minutes into the half. Murray’s unassisted score with 16:39 made it 11-1 and brought on the rare occurrence of running time, which almost never happens to the Minutemen while trailing. Mendham averages nearly 14 goals a game.

The teams would exchange scores the rest of the way but the Cougars never let up on either end of the field. Once time ran out the Chatham players rejoiced and were brimming with much more confidence than on Wednesday when they struggled under the lights at Roxbury High School.

“We were just more motivated to go out and show them that we were the better team,’’ Murphy said. “We knew we had to leave it out on the field because it might be the last time we were going to meet them. We really knew that this was our time to get revenge for losing counties. We wanted to win the conference so we just gave it everything we had.’’


About mcvbb

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

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