Montville girls find their focus in win over Roxbury

By Mark Kitchin


TOWACO — It is not easy for a team with a strong sophomore contingent to keep its efforts from wandering astray but the Montville Mustangs might have just enough of a mix of youth and experience to keep a successful balance.

Sophomore Abby Haimson scored four goals to lift Montville to a 9-6 triumph over Roxbury in a regular-season contest on the Camp Dawson turf field on Thursday.

Shelby Labe scored twice and Nicole Cecere, Ashley Bello and Nicole Dvoretsky also added goals for the Mustangs (3-1). Danielle Wilk and Rebecca Dobbins scored two goals apiece for the Gaels (1-2).

Montville defender Maura Johnson (14) fights through Roxbury players to get the ball.

The triumph was a good bounce back win for Montville after a Tuesday loss to Kinnelon. The Mustangs broke a 3-3 tie with four consecutive goals in the final seven minutes of the first half to open up a 7-3 halftime advantage over the Gaels.

As a team, the Mustangs may be coming into focus. They have an experienced group of returning seniors bolstered with a lively core of 11 sophomores including a few of them already contributing on the varsity level. Some of the Montville players may not have clearly defined roles, but they have acquired a versatility and skill set that helps them tackle whatever task presented to them.

 “I think everyone can play pretty much any position,’’ senior midfielder Danica Witty said. “People who play midfield do both, they play up and down the field and attack and defend. Depending on who we play, we push people up or make them get back so everyone gets a taste of everything. … We understand how teams play and we try to match it up to how we play.’’

A quick player like Witty employs her speed to fill in wherever she’s needed. She usually plays a big role in the team’s transition game.

“Every practice we work on drills in transition and we keep on doing it until we get it right,’’ Witty said. “Unless we understand it and learn from it, we don’t stop.’’

Freshman goalkeeper Remy Heller, who shares the position with sophomore Julianna Russo, has gotten off to a good start between the pipes. Both keepers have a blend of talented and experienced defenders in front of them. Seniors Maura Johnston and Sara Levitt know what is necessary to get the job done on the varsity level while sophomores Carli DeNegris and Brianna Rivera can run all day. Heller’s defensive teammates have demonstrated confidence in her.

“She has no fear,’’ Witty said. “She’s not afraid of the ball. She works hard every practice and she does not give up. … Even if we returned the same goalie for four years, we would want to work hard to protect her. Our defense has confidence in her.’’

Montville’s Ashley Bello prepares for a free position shot during first half action on Thursday.

The contest was tied 3-3 with seven minutes left in the first half when the Mustangs went on a scoring run. Tallies by Nicole Cecere, Nicole Dvoretsky, Haimson andLabe helped Montville open up a 7-3 advantage at the half.

Last year Labe was the team’s top scorer with 70 goals. This year the Mustangs are looking to achieve more of a balance on offense. Haimson, Ashley Bello, Nicole Cecere and many others are looking to contribute although Labe, a senior, is still a major threat.   

 “Shelby is a great player,’’ Haimson said. “She’s a lefty and she has really great shot placement.’’

 Roxbury battled back from an 8-4 deficit early in the second half with back-to-back goals by Amanda Beal off a free position and a low righty shot by Julia Mangarella to make it a two-goal game. Montville called timeout with 9:27 left in regulation to settle down and talk things over.

Roxbury’s Brittany Feith soars for the ball during Thursday’s contest against Montville

“Coach (Jen Mulvaney) told us that the game was really close,’’ Haimson said. “We needed to make really tough decisions and we couldn’t be turning the ball over.’’

Haimson stopped Roxbury’s momentum. She scored a decisive goal with 7:41 left. It turned out to be the final goal of the game.

“I got the ball from Ashley Bello,’’ Haimson said. “I ran down the middle and got checked but I got the ball back inside the fan and shot it lefty at the goalie. We definitely wanted to shoot it low on her. I just wanted to get it opposite stick side and low.’’

As a result the Mustangs earned a victory, another reward for keeping everything in focus.

 “In our last two years of playing them each game was a one-goal game,’’ Witty said. “Most of us knew the Roxbury players from out of season teams. We knew they were tough. We knew this would not be an easy game at all. We came in more focused than any game or scrimmage we’ve had so far this season. We realized what we needed to do to come out with a win.’’

Roxbury’s Brittany Feith looks to pass the ball as Montville’s Sarah Levitt defends during first half action.

Girls Lacrosse Results

Ridgewood 10, Chatham 9, OT

Kelci Smesko scored five goals including a goal with 1:03 left in overtime to upend the previously unbeaten Cougars. The Maroons rallied from a 9-5 deficit for the home victory. Jaclyn Leto scored four goals and Lauren Maiorano scored twice for Chatham.

Boys Lacrosse Results

Montville 12, Indian Hills 4 – Senior attackman Ryan O’Lear had four goals and three assists to spark the Mustangs in Montville. Raif Correa had one goal and three assists. Jake Haimson and Kevin Wolfson scored two goals apiece. Jake Drexl won 15 of 17 faceoffs and snatched nine ground balls for Montville.

 Morris Hills 8, West Orange 5 – Eric Turner had two goals and one assist, Stevie Rome scored twice and Brandon Acevedo notched a pair of assists for the Scarlet Knights.



About mcvbb

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

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