Strong second half lifts Mendham by Chatham

By Mark Kitchin


MENDHAM — The Mendham girls lacrosse team has been such a commanding force in Morris County lacrosse over the years that it comes as a bit of a shock when the Minutemen lose a couple of games early in the season. However, that only made them more determined to rise up against a familiar foe on Thursday.

Senior midfielder Becky Gohsler scored four goals and Gia Padavano and Mariah Salerno each added a pair of goals to lift Mendham to a 10-6 triumph over Chatham.

Christine Graziano and Carlye Maita also connected for the Minutemen (5-3). Mendham outscored Chatham 4-1 in the second half to pull away with the victory on Mendham’s home turf.

Mary Kate O’Neill had a hat trick for the Cougars. Maggie O’Neill, Lauren Maiorano and Kelcie Ehler added goals for Chatham (4-4).

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Mendham’s Emma Bargiacchini looks for an opening to clear the ball against Chatham. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Chatham moved to within a goal when O’Neill connected with 3.5 seconds remaining in the first half to make it a 6-5 game. Mendham gained momentum back on a Gohsler score at 22:29 into the second half to make it a two-goal game. The Minutemen maintained at least at two-goal advantage the rest of the way and would outscore the Cougars 4-1 in the second half.

“It was a huge game for us,’’ Salerno said. “It sets us up for the rest of the season. It shows everyone that we are a team to be reckoned with.’’

“It feels great (to beat Chatham),’’ Gohsler added. “It’s been a goal for us the whole season. They beat us last year in the counties so it is definitely redemption time.’’

Mendham’s unusual season started with its schedule. It opened with five consecutive road games in which they have emerged 2-3. They are following it up with six home games and have worked over the .500 mark with turf victories over Morris Knolls, Oak Knoll and now Chatham.

Mendham has a lot of new faces on the varsity team. The Minutemen have five returning starters from last year and the only one back on defense is veteran netminder Abby Witczek. More than in recent years, the Minutemen have been working through the regular season by trial and error.

“We are so young,’’ Mendham coach Jess Shoulberg said. “We graduated a lot. We had a key injury with Paige (Russell) going down, so it’s taken us a long time to figure out what works and what doesn’t.’’

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Chatham’s Lauren Maiorano (12) and Mary Kate O’Neill (9) celebrate an early score. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Mendham had been playing strong in the second halves of contests. In this game the Minutemen were determined to generate intensity and excitement from the opening draw.

“We definitely knew we needed to come out strong for this team,’’ Salerno said. “They are a really powerful team. They started out with the first goal but those first two goals were huge for us. It really started the momentum.’’

Salerno scored Mendham’s first two goals. The Minutemen took early leads of 3-1 and 5-2 and showed their enthusiasm after every score. The players cheered every goal as if it was their first one and excitedly bounced up and down in anticipation of the next draw. Their attitude stood during the raw, damp day kept the momentum going for most of the half. Gohsler’s third goal of the game with 5:32 left made it a 6-3 score.

However, the Cougars closed late with scores by Maggie O’Neill with 1:39 remaining and Mary Kate O’Neill with 3.5 seconds left. Mendham expected its opponents to rally at some point during the contest. The Minutemen have had too many battles with them to expect anything else.

“Chatham is a good team,’’ Gohsler said. “They hustle a lot. They are very smart. We showed up and had a lot of heart and hustle. I think that’s how we got the win.’’

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Mendham’s Mariah Salerno (5) turns the corner on two Chatham defenders. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Mendham had to summon up the determination to bounce back on both ends of the field after the break.

“They came out strong for the last five minutes of the first half,’’ Salerno said. “We knew going in that we had to shut them down right away and then maintain our strength for the rest of the second half.’’

Gohsler’s only second-half goal stopped Chatham’s momentum. She took a feed from Padavano on the right side of the field and connected on a high shot with 22:29 left to make it a 7-5 game.

“We talked about it before the half,’’ Gohsler said. “We needed to do more feeding the ball. She gave me a great pass. My part was easy.’’

The Minutemen scored three of the next four goals with two of them coming off the stick of Padavano. Another senior that has played in a supporting role for years, she has also been asked to step up her level of play.

“She is a huge asset on our offense,’’ Salerno said. “She’s a great crease-roller and from behind the cage she sets up a lot of our plays on offense.’’

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Mendham’s Carlye Maita sets up for a free position opportunity in first half action. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

She can finish them, too. Her last goal came with 11:43 left was set up by a Devon Russell draw control.

Mendham played cagey and smart most of the second half by taking advantage of Chatham’s yellow card situation. The Cougars had four infractions during the game, including three in the second half. The penalties eventually forced them to compete with one player short for the final five minutes of the game.

Since Mendham had a four-goal advantage with more than 10 minutes left, the Minutemen played a possession game. The lengthy stretches of ball control kept Chatham out of its offensive end and kept the ball away from O’Neill, Maiorano and anyone else on the Cougars with a quick and accurate stick.

As a result, the Minutemen earned a signature win and took another step in the right direction.

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Mendham’s Gia Padavano (4) and Chatham goalkeeper Hannah Reader battle for a loose ball behind the cage. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Morris County results

Mountain Lakes 16, Westfield 8

The Lakers remain unbeaten at 7-0. Jackie Perry had three goals and two assists. Victoria Kalamaras scored three goals and Olivia Fernandez and Maddie Siebold scored two goals apiece for Mountain Lakes.

Roxbury 10, Ramapo 9

Joelle Manganella had two goals and two assists including the game-winning goal with 5:31 left in regulation. Katie Cikovski fired a hat trick for the Gaels (5-2).

Mount Olive 13, Fair Lawn 12

Freshman goalie Keely Kovatz stopped 12 shots including two late in the game for the Marauders. Francesca Verrone had four goals and one assist and Sarah McEvoy added three goals for Mount Olive (2-6).

Morris Catholic 16, Pascack Valley 6

Lexi Finn had five goals and one assist and Tina Nassany scored four times for the Crusaders.

Madison 14, Columbia 10

The Dodgers led 7-5 at the half. Molly Fishter had four goals and three assists and Ali Jago added four goals for Madison (6-2).

Villa Walsh 17, New Providence 13

Christina Pallitto scored five goals and Taylor Medd had four goals and two assists for the Vikings (7-1).

Northern Highlands 17, Pequannock 5

Jess Rigoglioso notched a pair of goals for the Golden Panthers.

Oak Knoll 12, Kinnelon 8

Heidi Annaheim scored five goals for the winless Colts.

Vernon 9, Morristown-Beard 7

Jill Burke had a hat trick for the Crimson.

Ridgewood 18, West Morris 6

Paige Burton and Amy Moore had two goals apiece for the Highlanders (1-7).

Mahwah 13, Montville 6

Ashley Bello’s hat trick paced the Mustangs.

Boys Lacrosse

West Morris 9, Voorhees 7

Matt Carfaro, Jeremy Angle and Justin Costanza each registered two goals apiece. Ryan Muscatella dished five assists for the Wolfpack (4-3).

Montville 11, Wayne Hills 10

Jake Haimson had seven goals and one assist for the Mustangs (4-3). Montville led 7-2 at half and had to score a few goals late in a wild finish.

Madison 12, Mendham 10

A 3-1 fourth-quarter effort decided the matter in favor of the Dodgers. Collin Scarpello had three goals and two assists, Andrew Kaye had three goals and Christian Scarpello had two goals and three assists for Madison (5-3). Tim Lewis scored four goals and Peter McNerney had two goals for Mendham (2-6).

Morris Hills 12, High Point 3

The Scarlet Knights prevailed with the help of Zach Berkowitz’s four goals and Eric Turner’s two goals and two assists.

Kinnelon 11, Ramapo 8

The Colts improve to 2-4. Brian Gnad had six goals and one assist. Joe Neggia and Ryan O’Keefe registered two goals and one assist apiece.


About mcvbb

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

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