Montville tops Pequannock in charity game

By Mark Kitchin


 TOWACO – Just because Montville girls lacrosse was in a charitable mood on Saturday, it didn’t mean the Mustangs were going to give up a game, too.

Shelby Labe scored seven goals and her teammates Ashley Bello and Abby Haimson notched four goals apiece inMontville’s 15-3 triumph over Pequannock in a game on the turf field at Camp Dawson.

The win lifted Montville to 12-2. Pequannock (11-4) received goals from Caitlin Horgan, Leanna Licitra, Alyssa Tachon and Christine Richard.

Pequannock and Montville showed their generosity before the players stepped onto the field on Saturday as well as during the game. Both teams had already raised more than $1,000 each for the HEADstrong Foundation with online donations. While the “Shoot for a Cure” event was going on, HEADstrong items (sunglasses, ribbons, head bands, t-shirts) were also sold. The Foundation is nationally known for raising money to fight blood cancer and support efforts for research and finding a cure.

It wasn’t the only charity that was part of the proceedings. Money was also raised for the Michael W. Coppola Foundation. Coppola was a Pequannock High School lacrosse player who died last year. His fund will provide scholarships to Pequannock graduating seniors and donations to Leukemia and Graft vs. Host Disease programs and/or research projects.

Montville’s Shelby Lade (12) scored seven goals to lift the Mustangs on Saturday.

“It was great,’’Labe said. “We had a lot of fun. We sold pins at our school. We were spreading the word all over town while trying to raise money for the cause. I know we had fun. It was team bonding as well as helping out the charity.’’

Montville coach Jen Mulvaney and Pequannock coach Lindsay Lafferman joined their teams together for a similar charity last year. The coaching duo met Cheryl Colleluori, the mother of Nick “Head” Colleluori for whom the charity is based on, in January at the annual lacrosse convention in Philadelphia. The former Hofstra lacrosse player died in 2006 of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma but the charity that bears his nickname and his favorite lime green color has flourished and become a lacrosse event in many towns along the east coast over the last few years.

“I think that because it’s from lacrosse that a lot of us can relate to it,’’ Montville defender Danica Witty said. “That if anything happened in our lives — that God forbid we come across this, that we know how to handle it and to know that people are there to help others in need.’’

Montville’s Ashley Bello has been stepping up in the offensive end for the Mustangs.

Some of the players from both teams knew Michael Coppola personally. The bake sale and refreshment stand helped raise money for his foundation which includes funding a Pequannock High scholarship dedicated in his name and continued research into the causes for his illness.

“He was always there for you,’’ Pequannock attacker Caitlin Horgan said. “He was the type of kid who never let you down. He was just a warm and friendly person, wanting to help you.’’

The lacrosse athletes from Montville and Pequannock know each other very well through club activities and other sports functions. They don’t mind the concept of sharing charities.

“We communicated back and forth throughout this whole entire event,’’ Pequannock midfielder Carly Anderson said. “We got the matching pinnies. We got the matching (blue, green Argyle style) socks. We did it together. Even though we are their opponents, for something like the foundation we are all together.’’

Pequannock goalkeeper Jenna Florian was tested early and often on Saturday.

The friendly teams battled through the contest but Labe’s scoring ability gave the Mustangs a distinct advantage. The Trinity College-bound senior, who also enjoys playing ice hockey, scored four of the team’s first six goals and made most of Montville’s possessions beneficial ones with her drives to the cage.

 “We’ve been trying to get off to really good starts,’’Labe said. “Today we were focused on maintaining how we started and keeping it at that high level.

“We wanted to be patient with the ball and not take any chances – just go to the goal when we were sure we had it.’’

Labe said the Mustangs seem to be getting better at taking advantage of the skills of its players within the framework of the team. For example Labe is a skillful one-on-one player but she always keeps an eye out for Bello when she can find some space on the crease.

“When she gets a crease cut I’m looking to feed her and I know Abby is looking to feed her,’’Labe said. “We are starting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and I think that is helping us out.’’

Pequannock coach Lindsay Lafferman (left) and Montville coach Jen Mulvaney worked together to set up the charitable day.

The game was tied 2-2 with 15 minutes left in the first half, but Montville exploded to score six of the next seven goals to take an 8-3 halftime lead. Labe scored three in the run. Montville cemented the game with a 7-goal run in the second half and proved it was not looking ahead to their upcoming Morris County Tournament game with defending champions Mendham in the quarterfinal round.

“We’re going to come out as strong as we did these past few games,’’ Labe said. “We’re going to give it all we have.’’

HEADstrong sale items included sunglasses, ribbons and head bands all in bright green colors.


About mcvbb

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

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