Mountain Lakes girls are hungry for more

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

MOUNTAIN LAKES — The Mountain Lakes girls lacrosse players admit that they are not morning people but while Olivia Fernandez was working on her eggs and Maddy Siebold munched spoonful after spoonful of her Honey Nut Cheerios, not a sliver of doubt entered their minds or the rest of the Lakers as to what was going to happen when they played the Kinnelon Colts for the third time this season.

Mountain Lakes assured itself another trip to the North Group I final with a 19-7 triumph on the turf at Mountain Lakes High School on Saturday.

Jackie Perry scored five goals and Maddie Siebold and Olivia Fernandez scored four goals apiece. Alli LaBeau added three goals and four assists for the Lakers (18-1). Mountain Lakes will face Glen Ridge in the sectional final for the third consecutive year when the Lakers play host to the Ridgers on May 29.

Heidi Annaheim scored four goals and Haley Fembleaux, Virginia Annaheim and Talia Price also tallied for Kinnelon (8-13). The Annaheim sisters still have one more varsity game left to play. Kinnelon is hosting Ridgewood on Memorial Day.

5x gl st mlkinnGoalie Sarah Allison and the rest of the Mountain Lakes team got off to a great start on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Saturday’s contest, which was rescheduled due to bad weather on Thursday, was held at 10 a.m. The Lakers were counseled to stay home Friday night and get a good night’s sleep in preparation for today’s game.

Mountain Lakes had beaten Kinnelon twice before at different times of the day. Their regular season 18-7 win was an afternoon contest on April 6. The Lakers outscored the Colts 19-10 in a Morris County Tournament semifinal that was held on May 9 at night as the second game of a doubleheader. Whether they nibbled bagels, or pounced on pancakes on Saturday morning, the Lakers were hungry for more than just breakfast. One more chance against Glen Ridge in state tournament play was foremost in their minds.

“Were so excited to play them and finally play them on our home field,’’ Siebold said.

“We have a lot of experience on the field from years past. A lot of us have been starters when we were younger. We expected to be better this year.’’

62x gl st mlkinn

Mountain Lakes’ Maddy Siebold looks for a teammate while Kinnelon’s Ashley Bobinski blocks her path. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The top-seeded Lakers didn’t feel any pressure upon reaching the sectional final. They don’t plan on letting it affect them now.

“We’re so focused on our goal that we are not really thinking about other people,’’ Fernandez said. “We are thinking about what we want.’’

Mountain Lakes is a veteran crew. Some of them have played together with their teammates since fourth or fifth grade. What sets this year’s group apart from those that have fallen in past seasons? The players know each other extremely well and as a group they are unselfish to a fault.

“We refuse to lose,’’ Fernandez said. “We’re all so close. We know each others strengths and weaknesses and we take that to heart. Like Jackie is so strong driving and Maddie is so strong cutting that we really look for those plays to set each other up.

“We are all just striving and working hard for each other in order to reach our goals. That’s the difference this year.’’

80x gl st mlkinnJackie Perry (24) had a huge offensive day for the Lakers. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The only defeat this season was a 19-11 loss to Ridgewood on May 1, but for that the players are a little bit grateful. It helped the Morris County Champions to refocus on their future battles without the pressures of an unbeaten season to pester them. Since losing to the Maroons, the Lakers have won eight games in a row.

“We didn’t want to go into the state tournament being undefeated,’’ Siebold said. “We didn’t want to be a target. It was definitely a wake-up call.’’

Although it’s tough to beat a team three times in a season, the Lakers were confident that they could handle the Colts and talented scorer Heidi Annaheim once again. Mountain Lakes’ defender Alexa Wilson guarded her so close, that she seemed to be an accessory to her outfit and might as well have worn green for the occasion. Annaheim took great pains to even touch the ball on the field without Wilson somehow getting in the way.

“We blocked her out the whole game,’’ Siebold said. “Alexa was on top of it.’’

194x gl st mlkinnKinnelon’s Heidi Annaheim connects on one of her four goals on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

It helped that Mountain Lakes dominated the battle of possession. The Lakers won eight of ten draws in the first half. Whether they were taken by Siebold or Perry, Mountain Lakes seemed ready for any wrinkle Kinnelon was planning for them.

“We got more of the draw controls,’’ Fernandez said. “That was the key. Our coaches stress on that every game and today we just knew that draw controls were going to win us the game.’’

The circle was more physical than the other two games combined and the action didn’t stop once the ball landed in the pocket of someone’s stick.

“It was really scrappy today,’’ Siebold said. “The ball was on the ground a lot. We were getting our sticks on the ground and getting on the ball which made them foul a lot. There was a lot of checking and hacking.’’

Two scores each by Perry and Siebold got Mountain Lakes off to a 4-0 start 10 minutes into the contest. Perry has been exceptional this season and always seems to give a little something extra against the neighboring rivals.

28x gl st mlkinnKinnelon’s Victoria Bobinski and Mountain Lakes’ Olivia Fernandez battle for an elusive ground ball. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“She’s just always pushing so hard,’’ Fernandez said. “She’s definitely one of the people at the heart of the team. She is always hustling. No matter what, she’s going after the ball. She will be exhausted and she keeps going. It gets us motivated to keep on our game.’’

Fembleaux connected at 13:03 to break up the streak but scores by Perry and Siebold gave the Lakers a 6-1 advantage. The Colts fought back by gaining possessions and being extremely patient with the ball. Scoring goals seemed to be a struggle but Annaheim, after what seemed to be exhaustive efforts, put in a pair of goals including one with 41 seconds to make it a 6-3 game.

Then the Lakers issued a back-breaker by winning the draw, working it towards the Kinnelon cage and eventually creating a free position opportunity for Perry. She buried it with 1.9 seconds left in the half to make it a 7-3 game.

36x gl st mlkinnThe battle for possession of the ball was often a fierce one between the two rivals. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The teams would exchange goals early in the second half. A Perry goal was matched by a Virginia Annaheim score. Then the Lakers broke the game open with a 10-minute, 9-goal scoring barrage. It was aided by Perry’s draws which included a few she won herself to initiate the team’s offensive transitions. Mountain Lakes built a 17-4 margin that triggered the running clock and made the game progress even faster. The victory assured the Lakers the opportunity to enjoy the Memorial Day holiday and a chance at state tournament redemption on their home field next Wednesday.

“Winning the county championship was definitely big for us,’’ Siebold said. “Since we got the feeling of it, we want more. We want a sectional final and a Tournament of Champions final and that’s what we keep striving for every day.’’

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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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