Locking up Annaheim was Mountain Lakes’ key

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

ROXBURY — Her moves are often mesmerizing and her shot is lethal. There was only one way that Mountain Lakes was going to shake Kinnelon in Thursday’s Morris County Tournament semifinal. Get the ball out of Heidi Annaheim’s stick – and keep it out.

The top-seeded Lakers managed that task in order to advance to the championship game for the first time since 2009. Jackie Perry and Victoria Kalamaras scored five goals apiece in Mountain Lakes 19-9 victory over its neighboring rival. It advances to play Mendham, a victor over defending champion Chatham in the other semifinal. The championship is scheduled for Saturday night at Roxbury High School.

Annaheim scored five goals for Kinnelon including her 300th varsity goal. The Notre Dame bound athlete creates goals for others when she’s not connecting by herself. Mountain Lakes knew she was trouble even before the opening whistle.

“She’s outstanding,’’ Mountain Lakes coach Jen Munday said. “That kid is one of the best players I’ve coached against. She deserves every credit and accolade she gets because she’s that good. … She’s so fast and she’s a very good player.’’

“She is very hard to contain herself. She makes the other people around her better. We had to be heads up on her and everybody else because she can get them the ball.’’

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Mountain Lakes Allie LaBeau battles Kinnelon’s Victoria Bobinski for a 50-50 ball. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Just 10 minutes into the contest she had reached her milestone by scoring her fourth goal of the game to tie the contest at 4-4. She had the fifth-seeded Colts, who did not have a winning record, but have been playing top notch competition, believing that this might be the year Kinnelon breaks through for its first MCT final. The Lakers and their fine defender Alexa Wilson had to double their efforts at stopping her if they wanted to advance.

“She’s a good player all around the field,’’ Wilson said. “We had to stop her because everything revolved around her on Kinnelon’s offensive end.

“She is very fast. I had a lot of people helping me out when she went behind the goal. She would kind of use the circle but my other teammates would jump on and help me out with her.’’

The Lakers had to deny Annaheim the ball. Not just on defense but by utilizing their offense, too. That meant more wins on the draw with more and longer possessions. At the end of the first half, the Lakers managed to build a 9-5 lead. They scored four of the last five goals in a 10-minute span, but the Colts were still winning the battle at faceoff. As long as Annaheim and her Kinnelon teammates were getting fresh scoring opportunities, they would always be dangerous.

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The Kinnelon players celebrate Heidi Annaheim’s milestone goal. Annaheim (1) is fourth from the left. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

All it took was a little more intensity and Jackie Perry’s stick to make it happen.

“We focused on the draws, just being aggressive and really going after every single ball,’’ Perry said. “It was all intensity. Alexa was blocking out number 1 (Annaheim), who was their leading scorer. That helped a lot. As soon as we took her out of the game, they really didn’t have any offense.

“The draw control dictated the game for us. Every time that we got the draw we pretty much scored so we knew that at halftime we had to get the draw to come up ahead.’’

Gradually, the Lakers began to take over the game. Unlike Kinnelon, Mountain Lakes has several different scorers, not just one. If Perry wasn’t putting the ball in the net it was Victoria Kalamaras or Allie LaBeau or Maddie Siebold or others.

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Allie LaBeau is one of Mountain Lakes’ most capable scorers. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The Colts got as close as 10-6 in the second half on a score by Virginia Annaheim with 21:43. However, the Lakers lead gradually grew from six, to eight, to ten goals. Their possessions also took valuable time off the clock.

When Annaheim connected for her first goal of the second half, it would be the last goal of the game with 1:07 left which accounted for the final score. Now, the Lakers are moving on against Mendham, the tournament’s fixture.

“If we can play one team, that’s who we want it to be,’’ Perry said. “They are a great team, so we are excited to play against them.’’

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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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