Montville girls battle past Roxbury, 15-14

By Sandy Seegers

Morriscountylacrosse

ROXBURY _ Sunday’s encounter between Montville’s Brianna Rivera and Roxbury’s Amanda Beal was tame.

Rivera and Beal, future lacrosse teammates, met at Montclair State University’s Students Acceptance Day and immediately hit it off, discussing their high schools and hometowns.Read More

Somewhere in the midst of the conversation, they took out their cell phones and looked up the date of the game between the Mustangs and the Gaels.

Forty-eight hours after their visits to MSU, Rivera and Beal were battling it out on draws. Rivera, a low defender, usually doesn’t do faceoffs but Montville coach Jen Mulvaney needed someone who could match Beal.

Each player excelled but ask Mulvaney and she’ll say Rivera was one of the major factors in the Mustangs’ 15-14 victory over Roxbury on Tuesday..

“Abby Haimson usually does the draws,” Rivera said. “I have the height so doing it was easier for me. I have more reach with my arms.

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One of the Mustangs seems intent on taking the ball to the goal. (Photo by Sandy Seegers)

“It was definitely fun going against Amanda. We’re both competitive. That was in the back of both of our heads. We went out there and showed each other what we’ve got.”

Beal, a center, poses problems because she stands 5 foot 9 and is a reliable dominant force.

“Having Brianna on the draws worked out great,” said Montville senior attack Abby Haimson, who typically handles that responsibility. “She has the stretch and she can box out.”

Haimson provided the scoring power, netting seven goals for the Mustangs (6-1). It was the second one-goal win in two days for Montville, which defeated New Providence on Monday.

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Montville led for much of the second half but was constantly threatened by the active Roxbury offense. (Photo by Sandy Seegers)

The Mustangs held two four-goal leads in the second half. The Gaels, however, kept pushing. At 15-11, Roxbury (2-4) remained aggressive and focused, scoring the last three goals in a span of three minutes, 11 seconds. The flurry began with Dana Pezzutti’s goal with 6:10 remaining. Kayla Lucia and Beal struck next.

“It was a little scary there,” Haim said. “We had to be patient on our end and keep passing the ball around.”

Mulvaney would like to see her squad maintain or build upon an advantage. Of course, she was glad the Mustangs prevailed.

“Luckily, when it was a one-goal game, we secured possession and kept it which was huge,” Mulvaney said. “To Roxbury’s credit, they fight and don’t give up. It’s always competitive and close when we play them.

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Roxbury’s Amanda Beal and Montville’s Brianna Rivera take to the draw on Tuesday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“I’m happy for my girls. They’re a great group of kids and work hard. Leadership and experience have guided us to this spot.”

Rivera, one of five captains, knows Montville must figure out a way to prevent opposing teams from catching up.

“We can’t let that keep happening,” Rivera said. “It all starts at the draw. We can’t have our turnovers lead to other teams’ successes.”

“We can’t be satisfied,” said Haimson.

Senior midfielder Nicole Dvoretsky added five goals for the Mustangs. Roxbury’s attack was paced by sophomore midfielder Chelsea Artigliere (4 goals) and senior attack Jamie Kendelski (3 goals, 1 assist). Kendelski suffered a hamstring injury on Monday but was intent on playing.

The Gaels, who returned only three starters, are young. They score a sufficient amount of goals but must bolster their defense and cut down on penalties to be more competitive.

“We’ve been in every game,” Roxbury coach Kevin Bewalder said. “We’re doing well. Giving up too many goals has hurt us. You can’t give up that many and win.”

Renee Sarinelli and Ellen Cryan are at the core of the Gaels’ defense. Cryan has been sidelined for the last three games with back issues.

Haimson realizes that Montville, too, must tighten up its “D” if it is to contend for conference, county and state honors.

“Our defense can be awesome,” she said. “Our double teams and slides are good. We don’t gamble on checks and transition well up the field. It’s still the beginning of the season. If we keep this pace, I can’t imagine the things we can achieve.”

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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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