MCT Girls Semifinal Preview

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

It’s a guarantee that this year’s Morris County Tournament girls lacrosse final will have a different matchup than the Chatham-Mendham battle of last year. That’s probably the only guarantee.

The semifinal round will be held on Thursday at Roxbury High School. The 5 p.m. opener is a rematch of last year’s final with third-seeded and defending champion Chatham facing second-seeded Mendham. The nightcap pits fifth-seeded Kinnelon against No. 1 Mountain Lakes.

The winners will play in Saturday’s championship game scheduled for 7 p.m. at Roxbury High School.

Chatham vs. Mendham

Is payback in order? It’s been a year since the Cougars rallied to defeat the Minutemen in a 13-12 triumph. Many of the key players have moved on but the sentiment is still there for the athletes returning to the game.

The teams have met before. On April 18, Mendham defeated Chatham 10-6. Both teams have gone through trials since then and may be playing their best lacrosse now.

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Chatham’s Kristen Maiorano has stepped up her game in recent weeks. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Mendham (10-4) is certainly on a role. After going 2-3 at one point, the Minutemen have won eight of their last nine games. Mendham has developed its offense. Becky Gohsler, Christine Graziano and Gia Padavano were contributors last year. Now they play major roles in the Minutemen offense. The defense was re-organized but Devon Russell and goalkeeper Abby Witczek still keep order in the back.

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Mendham’s Gia Padavano (4) and Chatham goalie Hannah Reader will probably be seeing a lot of each other. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Chatham (7-7) received its bump in the road at mid-season when Mary Kate O’Neill suffered an ankle injury that ended her season. O’Neill played a major role in organizing the offense. After that the Cougars immediately hit a four-game slump, but they are now on track again. Lauren Maiorano is directing more of the offense. Kennedy Krauss, Maddy Bowles, Kristen Maiorano, Bridget Ballard and others have stepped up their games. A lot of the girls on defense gained experience last year. Kit Whiteman and Ashley Perselay are quick and great on the cover while Natalie Washuta and Casey Madura have terrific transition skills. The experience of Hannah Reader in goal cannot be underestimated. Both Reader and Mendham’s Witczek are savvy senior netminders and the difference in the game may be determined by their play.

Kinnelon vs. Mountain Lakes

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Kinnelon’s Heidi Annaheim is an active and efficient scorer. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The Colts are the best 5-9 team in the state. Set back by a killer schedule, it took a lot for them to keep their confidence. They were 1-8 when the tournament was seeded but coaches realized that Kinnelon was deserving of a fifth seed. Notre Dame-bound Heidi Annaheim is fun to watch. She has great quickness and can score with a variety moves from all different angles. She works well with senior teammate Nicole Belanger. The other Annaheim twin, Virginia can also be dangerous on offense but her skills are often needed more on the defensive end. Allie Rosenberg and goalkeeper Carly Cavagnaro among others will have to be tenacious and sharp on the defensive end, too.

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Allie LaBeau is one of many Lakers who love to find the back of the net. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The Colts and Lakers played each other on April 6 with Mountain Lakes the victor by an 18-7 score. The 12-1 Lakers have been outstanding all year and are deserving of the top-seed. It’s a veteran senior group whose time has come. Victoria Kalamaras, Ally LaBeau, Megan Ryan and Jackie Perry lead an offense that is balanced and varied. Alexa Wilson, Sarah Bozzo, Bridget Newfrock and Peyton Annese are experienced and confident defenders. Mountain Lakes also has two very good goalkeepers Sarah Allison and Julie Krupnick. A loss to Ridgewood has been the team’s only drawback this year. Mountain Lakes is the favorite having also beaten both Mendham and Chatham (in four OT’s though) this year but as always you have to win the games in order to earn the crown.

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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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