Mendham, West Morris, Chatham, Mountain Lakes battle for titles

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

Mendham and West Morris are playing for the same sectional title. Chatham and Mountain Lakes are also hoping to hoist banners of their own as state tournament play continues on Thursday.

Top ranked Mendham has beaten their sister school rivals at West Morris twice before in dominating fashion. On April 6, Mendham came away with a 14-4 triumph. A month later in the semifinals of the Morris County Tournament, Mendham was again victorious by a 13-5 score.

The Minutemen have been challenged at times this year only to come away with victories. They did have a stunning 14-3 regular-season loss at Chatham in a contest that Nicole Graziano did not compete in. Graziano has been a part of tournament play and had five goals and one assist in the team’s 15-4 win against West Windsor North on Tuesday. Ally Messinger and Gia Padavino also had hat tricks in the game. Messinger continues to draw numerous defenders and provides Mendham teammates with scoring opportunities. Padavino has been a reliable third scorer. Count on Morgan Holleran and Graziano to continue to work well on the draws and defender Carley Horan and goalkeeper Abby Witczak to spearhead the defensive effort.

West Morris outworked a talented Vernon team 21-18 on the road on Tuesday in order to make it this far. Emily Delaney scored five goals and Michaela Domaratzky had four goals for the Wolfpack. It helps that Amy Ernst is taking the draws. Carly Shello will also have to be active if West Morris is to be successful. If goalkeeper Chrissy Baffuto isn’t back from injury, the Wolfpack have faith in backup Pilar Gonzalez. Maggie Maroney will also have to make an impact for West Morris to have an opportunity to succeed.

Group II

Summit at Chatham- It could be an easy road for the Cougars since the Hilltoppers will be missing one of their top scorers because of an accumulation of yellow cards. Chatham had little trouble dispatching Mahway 15-1 on Tuesday.

Jaclyn Leto had three goals and three assists that game. She is one of the most versatile players in the county. She can score, she can distribute and she is great at stick checks and covering players on defense. Kelsey Perselay, Kate Murphy and Kat McCutcheon are also players to watch.

Summitadvanced to the sectional final after a grinding 10-8 triumph over West Essex on Tuesday. Chatham defeated Summit 16-8 on April 26, but the Hilltoppers are on an 11-game winning streak dating back to that defeat. Since then Summit has been efficient on offense averaging nearly 16 goals a game. Despite missing a top player, the Cougars will expect a tough game from their next door neighbors and rivals.

Group I

Mountain Lakes at Glen Ridge– The Lakers will be in for a battle in the Group I final. Glen Ridge defeated Mountain Lakes 13-5 on April 26. However, the Lakers have made changes and expect to put together a much better contest. They advanced to the title game with a 16-8 road triumph over Union County standout Kent Place. Casey Drollinger had four goals to spark the Lakers. Ingrid Hermanson, Hallie Walker and Grace Newfrock will make themselves offensive threats. The defense has improved in recent weeks as well and Carly Gniewek can make some tight saves in goal. The Lakers are on a six-game winning streak since losing narrowly to Chatham in the Morris County Tournament semifinals. Top-seeded Glen Ridge has been dominant in the tournament so far and will not make it easy for their opponents. The Ridgers are an exceptional defensive team, holding their opponents to an average of six goals a 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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