Kinnelon advances in Group I play

By Mark Kitchin


KINNELON – Kinnelon goalkeeper Carly Cavagnaro had an idea of what the Villa Walsh girls lacrosse team wanted to do against them but the junior goalkeeper and her defenders didn’t know who was going to do what. The Colts were able to sort it out just enough in the second half to advance in state tournament play.

Heidi Annaheim fired a hat trick and Cavagnaro put in a strong performance in the net to help Kinnelon top Villa Walsh 8-5 in North Group I competition on Friday in the grass football field at Kinnelon High.

Allie Britton and Nicole Belanger added two goals apiece for the third-seeded Colts. Kinnelon (14-3) will face rival Mountain Lakes on Tuesday in semifinal round competition. Mountain Lakes defeated Madison, 16-4 on Friday.

Taylor Medd fired a hat trick and Candace Pallitto notched a pair of goals for sixth seeded Villa Walsh (14-5).

Kinnelon’s Heidi Annaheim (1) was face guarded by Villa Walsh standout Julia Esposito (6) most of Friday’s game.

The close, intense contest was tied 4-4 with 15 minutes left. That was when Cavagnaro and her teammates finally shut down the Vikings for good.

“The biggest thing we did defensively is that we saw their game plan and we adapted,’’ Cavagnaro said. “Once we saw that they were going to crease roll, we adjusted and we put girls on the crease. Once we saw that they were going for fouls to get free shots, we made sure that we crashed on the free shots. We made sure that no matter what happened we changed our game to match theirs.’’

The Colts have the experience and the versatility to do that. Cavagnaro gives full credit to her defenders Marisa Acosta, Jordan Kurtz, Mackenzie Sims and Jess Daniels for their ability to change their type of play without any drop in quality. It’s a skill she appreciates and will miss next season

“It’s kind of sad because my three low defenders are all seniors,’’ Cavagnaro said. “This year were rocking it. Next year it’s going to be tough without them.

“It’s nice to have them but you have a little voice in the back of your head saying next year I’m not going to have this amazing talent in front of me.’’

When she had to, Cavagnaro also stepped up. She finished with 11 saves including some pivotal second-half stops which frustrated the Vikings and helped the Colts pull away. 

“She’s a tough cookie,’’ junior midfielder Heidi Annaheim said. “I like to work her (in practice). She gets the tough ones. Working with Carly has made a great impact on us. We love shooting on her.’’

Kinnelon defenders were concerned with the scoring ability of Villa Walsh’s Candice Pallitto (4).

Villa Walsh worked hard to shut down Annaheim, who is usually the focal point of the Kinnelon offense. She was often face guarded by Villa Walsh’s athletic midfielder Julia Esposito and swamped when she got the ball anywhere near scoring position. Annaheim was patient and happy to draw attention while juniors Britton and Belanger made the most of their scoring opportunities.

“Allie and Nicole can stand on their heads and shoot the ball and they will still put it in the goal,’’ Cavagnaro said. “They are incredibly talented and I’m lucky to have them in my grade.’’

The Colts also had to overcome a strong performance by Vikings keeper Caleigh O’Connor. She made 14 saves and kept the Kinnelon shooters guessing much of the contest. It wasn’t until the late stages of the game when the Colts started finishing their opportunities.

Kinnelon goalkeeper Carly Cavagnaro made some super saves for the Colts on Friday.

The Colts went on a 3-goal run during a two-minute span midway through the second half. Kinnelon called a time out after a Medd goal tied the game at 4-4 at 15:18. Just eight seconds later, the Colts were back on top on a Haley Fembleaux breakaway goal. An unassisted goal by Britton at 14:23 and a free position score by Annaheim at 13:01 soon followed to make it a 7-4 game.

Villa Walsh’s last goal of the season came off Medd’s stick from a Pallitto pass with 11:37 to make it 7-5. However, as the time ticked away the Vikings were forced to press more and more to cut their deficit.

They did have some opportunities to score but Cavagnaro was up to the challenge. She made three big saves in an eight-minute span. One quality the Colts have this year that eluded them in the past is the palpable build up of energy and enthusiasm among teammates that occurs with every big play – no matter who makes it.

“When someone does something everyone feels the excitement from it,’’ Cavagnaro said. “When people in the field get excited because they made a good check or got a good shot off, I get excited and I get pumped and then I’m able to do what I have to do.’’

Villa Walsh’s pressure defense and gambling tactics eventually allowed Kinnelon to break free and cement the win.

“Our coach told us to pull it out and once they started pressuring it gave us an opportunity to take it one-on-one,’’ Annaheim said. “Since we were so far out, we were able to get the win.’’

Villa Walsh’s Julia Esposito (6) comes up with the ball but Kinnelon’s Kara Crampton (6) and Virginia Annaheim (12) haven’t given up yet.

Annaheim sealed it with a free position goal with 3:47 left in regulation that accounted for the final score and a satisfying win in what was probably their last home game.

“It was a shooting space (call),’’ Annaheim said. “I beat my girl and I was going in and they were starting to crash. I took it back like I was going to shoot and I got the call. I had to make it. Their goalie was playing great. I knew I had to throw in a couple of fakes because she was saving everything.’’

Annaheim faked high and shot low for the final goal. Now the Colts will face the rival Lakers once again with the season on the line. The players believe in themselves and want to make this season a special one.

“We have the ability to do amazing things that Kinnelon has never seen before,’’ Cavagnaro said.

 State tournament scores

Group I

Mountain Lakes 16, Madison 4 – Hallie Walker scored four goals and Emma Harris, Ali LaBeau amd Jackie Perry each scored two goals apiece for the second-seeded Lakers. Ali Jago scored twice for the seventh-seeded Dodgers. Mountain Lakes took control with a 7-1 first-half edge.

Group III

Mendham 19, Phillipsburg 4 – Aly Messinger had six goals and two assists to spark the Minutemen romp. Mendham took control early and built a 14-2 first-half lead. Mariah Salerno added four goals for Mendham which plays West Morris in the semifinal round.

West Morris 13, Northern Highlands 10 – Emily Delaney and Megan Monaco registered hat tricks. Maggie Maroney had two goals and three assists and Michaela Domeratzky also notched a pair of goals for the Wolfpack (10-10).

Princeton 10, Mount Olive 7 – Francesco Verrone and Nicole Amada scored two goals apiece for the Marauders. The Tigers prevailed behind a five-goal performance by Emilia Lopez Ona.

West Windsor North 17, Montville 6.



About mcvbb

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

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