Mountain Lakes girls suffer tough end to terrific year

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountylacrosse

UNION — The Mountain Lakes lacrosse players ran left, ran right, twisted and turned, tried to dodge, changed approaches, worked angles but in the final minute of play the ball stayed in the Lakers’ stick pockets and was never launched at the goal.

It was a tough way to end a spectacular season, but the Royals of Oak Knoll were the queens of the Group I title game on Saturday.

Morgan Ryan fired a hat trick and Claire Cognassola had two goals and an assist to lift Oak Knoll to a 10-9 victory over Mountain Lakes in the Group I final held on the turf at Kean University.

Maddie Siebold had three goals. Victoria Kalamaras Allie LaBeau and Megan Ryan scored two goals apiece for the 19-2 Lakers. It was a stellar year for Mountain Lakes that included a North Group I sectional title to go along with a Morris County Tournament title.

15x gl st mlokMountain Lakes’ Maddie Siebold fires a shot into the net in the opening minutes of the Group I final. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Mountain Lakes was the first of two Morris County girls lacrosse teams to be eliminated from state tournament play on the Kean turf on Saturday. Defending state champion Moorestown defeated Mendham 18-11 in the Group III final later that afternoon.

There will be smiles and laughter when the Lakers look back at this season for years to come. However, moments after the final buzzer there was nothing but tears – hard spontaneous tears that would overcome a player on the senior-laden team often without warning. These outbursts were often followed with the consoling hug of a teammate also on the verge of tears.

That’s not how it started in the hot morning contest. Mountain Lakes got off to a quick start. Siebold scored twice and Kalamaras, who was showing no signs of the ankle injury that sidelined her in recent weeks, also notched a pair of goals. Five minutes into the game Mountain Lakes was up 4-0.

97x gl st mlokOlivia Fernandez makes a move on her Oak Knoll opponent during the first half of the Group I final. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

A Royals goal was met by LaBeau’s goal at 15:39 to make it 5-1. Then Oak Knoll rebounded with avengeance by scoring six consecutive goals to take a 7-5 advantage going into halftime.

“It’s a championship game,’’ Munday said. “It’s a game of runs. We’re going to come back. They are a going to come back. It’s the way that it was for the whole 50 minutes.’’

The key to the game, nearly all girls lacrosse games, is draw controls and possessions. Midway through the first quarter, Oak Knoll made the necessary changes on the circle, gained more possessions and started using their scoring opportunities effectively.

“It’s a lot of things that go both ways,’’ Munday said. “It’s getting the draw controls; it’s getting the ball, possessing it and not turning it over. I think they beat us to the ball. They got the draws to where they wanted them to and they beat us to it. They got ground balls — everything.’’

Champions that they are, the Lakers didn’t give up. Despite trailing 9-5 at one point, they rallied with three consecutive goals midway through the second half. Megan Ryan connected on an unassisted goal with 17:14 left. Kalamaras won the subsequent draw control and Siebold was fouled while cutting to the goal. Her free position score a minute later made it a two-goal game.

112x gl st mlokMountain Lakes’ Jackie Perry searches for a teammate while dodging a defender on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

A big save by the Lakers’ second-half netminder Julie Krupnick set up the next goal. It was by LaBeau, a righty shot from the left side, that made it 9-8 with 13:31. Things seemed to be going the Lakers way when a Royals player was given a yellow card and had to sit out for two minutes after fouling a player in the circle during the face-off, but Mountain Lakes eventually lost possession and was never able to take advantage of the Oak Knoll penalty.

At 10:46, Oak Knolls’ Kiwi Comizio bounced in a lefty shot from the left side to make it a two-goal game which became the eventual game-winning goal. The Lakers responded with Ryan’s tally, a righty shot that found the left corner with 6:58 left.

Both teams had scoring chances the final five minutes. The Lakers found themselves with the ball and took a time out with 1:10 left. They broke the huddle with confidence, worked and worked for a scoring chance as the seconds ticked away. A good opportunity never presented itself.

“We didn’t get a good shot off,’’ Munday said. “Maybe it was a bad play call. We should’ve looked for something else. We couldn’t get an opening. They just played great defense.’’

35x gl st mlokMountain Lakes’ Megan Ryan has her path to the goal blocked by an Oak Knoll defender. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

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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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