Pequannock girls persevere in win over Park Regional

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

HANOVER TWP. — The afternoon didn’t start off well for Pequannock girls lacrosse. On the hottest day of the year, the Golden Panthers’ bus went to the wrong school. When they finally arrived the players had to warm up quickly and found out they were going to play at an alternate Whippany Park field that was lumpier than the new turf fields they’ve been working out on at home.

Still dealing with those obstacles didn’t bother the Golden Panthers. They earned the fourth win in their first five games on Monday.

Jessica Rigoglioso scored five goals and Melissa Conklin and Colleen Quinn notched four goals apiece to lead Pequannock to a 16-12 triumph over Park Regional.

Ashley Tachon had two goals and her sister Alyssa Tachon had one for the Golden Panthers (4-1).

Erin Strickland scored four goals and Melissa Wamp added a hat trick for Park Regional. The co-op team consisting of players from both Hanover Park and Whippany Park High School drops to 3-3 on the season.

Pequannock goalkeeper Jenna Florian blocks a shot as Park Regional’s Jenna Freda looks on during Monday’s game.

The Pequannock bus originally went to Hanover Park instead of Whippany Park where the Park Regional girls lacrosse team plays. Despite the detour which delayed the game about 30 minutes and the searing heat, the Golden Panthers scored four of the first five goals in the game and proved they were ready to play in any weather.

We knew we had to come out strong,’’ Conklin said “We played a wonderful game on Saturday and we knew we had to put the same effort here today. … We got off to a good start. I was pumped up for this game. I was ready to play.’’

Despite a g00d start, Pequannock had its slack moments which were understandable because of the unseasonable weather. Park Regional rallied to tie the game at 5-5 with Janine Laudati’s goal at the 8-minute mark. However scores by Conklin, Rigoglioso and Quinn helped the Golden Panthers build an 8-6 advantage at the half.

Pequannock defenders Emily Brewer (19) and Megan Couch (2) try to put the squeeze on Park Regional attacker Jenna Freda (16) during Monday’s game.

“I think with the heat everybody was just tired,’’ Rigoglioso said. “We always play with intensity. It was kind of a slow moving game and not all the calls went our way.’’

If Pequannock wants to get to where it believes it can go this year, the Golden Panthers are going to have to win games that are going to test their fortitude. 

“This is the very first year we’ve had a balanced group and they are still figuring out how to do it together all of the time,’’ Pequannock coach Lindsay Lafferman said. “We have to continue to work through that.

“We’re still only five years varsity and seven years all together (as a program). It is a group that has been playing together for some time. It is a nice, balanced group. We have a lot of players who can put the ball in the bottom of the net. It’s just a question of everybody being on together and really starting to communicate well.’’

Pequannock’s Melissa Conklin scored two of her four goals in the first half for Pequannock

Conklin and her teammates knew that they just had to put together a stronger second half.

“We’re determined,’’ said Conklin, a junior center. “We’re always determined and we work together.’’

Pequannock outscored Park Regional 8-6 in the second half. Rigoglioso scored three of the first four goals. The junior midfielder who also took her share of draws helped Pequannock build a 12-9 edge at the 10-minute mark.

“Jess is a workhorse,’’ Lafferman said. “She will just go 110 percent all the time. She loves the game. She is passionate and she works, really, really hard. She will do whatever she has to do.’’

So did the rest of the Golden Panthers. Twice Park Regional rallied to make it a two-goal game only to see Pequannock rise to the occasion and halt the Sparks ** momentum. (see below)

Two goals by Conklin and a score by Quinn in the final two minutes cemented Pequannock’s four-goal triumph and give the Golden Panthers another win to build on.

“They are really buying in this year,’’ Lafferman said of her team. “I think they are fully committed. They are practicing hard all the time. The girls are really enthusiastic. They understand that this is a really strong group — the best group that we’ve ever had.’’

Pequannock’s Carly Anderson (9) keeps a stick on Park Regionals’ Alex Williams (27)  during Monday’s victory.

**Editor’s Note – The Park Regional lacrosse teams have never had a nickname or a mascot. Hanover Park teams are known as the Hornets and Whippany Park squads are Wildcats. The combination of the two invites any sort of unsatisfying and undignified mutations. There have been times that the co-op teams have been called Hanover Park or Whippany Park depending upon where they practice and play but it is unfair to those athletes that play on the team but don’t belong to the school.

 Since the school administration has never insisted on a nickname and the coaches and players in the past have never specified how they want to be called other than Park which is printed prominently on their uniforms, it has raised nothing but problems for local sportswriters over the past decade that want to give the team a little bit of personality and make it consistent with its opponents which all have nicknames. So Morriscountylacrosse is going to start calling the Park Regional team the Sparks to see if the nickname catches on.

Definitions of the word Spark includes 1) Any ignited or fiery particle. 2) Traces of life or vitality. 3) (As a verb) to kindle animate or stimulate (interest, activity, spirit).

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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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