Montville, Haimson edge Pequannock

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

PEQUANNOCK — It was a considered a game for charity, but the annual battle between Montville and Pequannock girls lacrosse teams had more of a feeling of rivalry to it.

Junior center Abby Haimson scored seven goals including the eventual game-winning goal in Montville’s 13-12 triumph over Pequannock on Saturday.

Ashley Bello and Nicole Dvoretsky each notched a pair of goals for the Mustangs which improved to 4-1 on the season.

Alyssa Tachon had a hat trick and Jess Rigoglioso, Ashley Tachon and Christine Richard each scored two goals apiece for the Golden Panthers (2-3).

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Pequannock’s Arden Kassaleh draws several Montville defenders in first half action on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Haimson’s game-winner came with 3:05 left. After being issued a free position scoring opportunity, she turned and peeled off to the right of the cage, regrouped, then sprinted back to the middle and put in a lefty shot to the right corner of the net to make it 13-11.

Pequannock made it a one-goal game on a score by Danielle Musto with 1:25 left. The Golden Panthers also won the subsequent draw, but with less than a minute remaining Montville defensive midfielder Carly DeNigris gathered a loose ball and pushed it down the field and allowed the Mustangs to run out the clock.

The contest was also for charity as both teams raised money for the HEADstrong Foundation. They are working to match or surpass last year’s mark of $4,000. HEADstrong is a nationally organization that raises money to fight blood cancer and fund support efforts for research to find a cure.

The teams from neighboring towns know each other very well. The coaches — Montville’s Jen Mulvaney and Pequannock’s Lindsay Lafferman – also coach at  Thunder Lacrosse in the off-season and players from both squads also play for the club team. Those factors have made the annual battle between the Mustangs and the Golden Panthers into more than just another game on the schedule.

“It’s very important — knowing that we are helping out for a good cause,’’ Haimson said. “We are selling ribbons and things and knowing that coach Lafferman and coach Mulvaney are close friends it makes it a fun rivalry kind of game. It’s just a really good feeling.’’

DeNigris doesn’t play for the Thunder but she’s noticed the game has a different feeling than most of Montville’s contests.

“It was a friendly competition but it was a really intense game,’’ DeNigris said. “Last year they had a tough loss to Mountain Lakes and then we played them the next day so they were really tired when we played them. Today was more of an even competition and it was an intense game.’’

One key matchup had DeNigris pitted against Pequannock scorer Jess Rigoglioso. The Montville athlete held her opponent to two second-half goals.

“She had a lot of speed and they had a lot of good ballhandling skills,’’ DeNigris said. “We had to keep them from crease rolls and we did well on that.’’

Along with defense, DeNigris was pivotal on winning draw controls around the circle and taking the draws with Haimson and Bello.

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Montville’s Ashley Bello (27) and her teammates surround a Pequannock player on her way to the cage. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“Carly does a lot of the little things that don’t show up in the paper,’’ Mulvaney said. “She’s a team player. I would love to have her in the attacking end but she is our best defender. Whenever we have her in the attacking end good things happen but we can’t afford to lose her in the defensive end.’’

The game was close throughout with neither team able to build more than a 3-goal advantage. Montville had a 6-5 edge at halftime but Pequannock had momentum from an Alyssa Tachon goal just five seconds before the break. However, every time the Golden Panthers scored in the second half, the Mustangs usually had an answer.

Haimson scored her sixth goal of the game with 11:47 remaining to give Montville a 12-9 edge but Pequannock rallied with back-to-back scores both by Rigoglioso to make it 12-11 with 8:15 left. The Mustangs would have more possession time in the next five minutes but it was a critical decision by Haimson that created the eventual game-winning goal.

Haimson earned a free position scoring opportunity but instead of pushing the ball to the cage for a shot attempt, she pulled away and waited for the front of the net to clear. After being double-teamed and face-guarded for most of the day, she wanted to create an open scoring opportunity.

“When everyone crashed I didn’t think I had a shot at goal but when I brought it back out, a lot of my teammates were helping me and they sort of cleared (the way),’’ Haimson said. “They brought their girls out and I was able to get the lane to go back in.’’

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Montville’s Abby Haimson, left, scored seven goals. Here she draws a foul on a move to the net. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Her score with 3:05 left made it a 13-11 score, providing just enough of a cushion for the Mustangs.

“I give her a lot of credit,’’ Mulvaney said. “She works hard with the ball and without the ball. She was being face guarded. I thought she handled it really well today. She didn’t let it affect her game.

“She’s not only skilled but especially today I was very impressed with her thinking of the game – her lacrosse IQ.’’

Pequannock wasn’t finished. The Golden Panthers gained possession on a loose ball, marched down field and received a goal from Musto at the 1:25 mark. Pequannock’s Rigoglioso captured the following draw control and began working the ball downfield. Somehow, all of a sudden, the ball got loose and found the pocket of DeNigris’ stick. She said she didn’t remember how the play occurred but her teammates sure loved the result.

“She’s really modest,’’ Haimson said. “That (play) was probably the game. Everyone was so happy. When she got that ground ball — it was the best.’’

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Montville coach Jen Mulvaney keeps her players motivated. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Morris County results

Jefferson 16, Morris Hills 13

Danielle Pini scored six goals and Kara Hodapp had three goals and one assist each to lift the unbeaten Falcons. Kendra Nolan added a pair of goals for Jefferson (6-0). Ashley Lovenberg and Casey Lyness scored five goals each for Morris Hills (3-2).

Mount Olive 9, Passaic Valley 7

The Marauders earned their first triumph. Sarah McEvoy scored five goals and Christina Portesy added a pair of goals for Mount Olive (1-5).

Hanover Regional 19, West Milford 9

Melissa Wamp scored 10 goals and had five assists for Park. Katie Hunt added four goals and three assists for the team that includes players from both Hanover Park and Whippany Park. Park took control with an 8-4 first-half effort.

Villa Walsh 15, Verona 7

Candace Pallitto had five goals and one assist and Taylor Medd scored four times for the Vikings. Villa Walsh pulled away with an 11-5 second-half run.

Sparta 15, Morristown-Beard 8

Carolyn Chambers fired a hat trick for the Crimson (4-2). The Spartans improve to 6-0.

Mahwah 10, Morris Catholic 8

Lexi Finn scored four goals and Rachel Mills added two goals and one assist for the Crusaders (4-2)

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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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