Unexpected heroes lift Randolph girls in MCT prelims

By Mark Kitchin


RANDOLPH — When it comes to playing in the Morris County Tournament it is best to expect the unexpected.

Senior attack players Lindsey Klein and Mary Geschwindt were ready when the unexpected occurred and as a result the Randolph Rams advanced in preliminary round play.

Klein scored the game-tying goal and Geschwindt followed it up with the game-winner in Randolph’s 16-15 win over Mount Olive on the Randolph football field turf on Thursday.

Dana Shalit, Natalie Panvini and Kelly McGinniss added hat tricks for the 16th-seeded Rams. Randolph advances to face top-seeded Mountain Lakes in the opening round.

Sarah McEvoy had six goals and Claire Callaghan scored four goals for the 17th-seeded Mount Olive (9-3).

35 gl mct randmo  050114Randolph’s Dana Shalit pushes to the cage against a Mount Olive defender in first half action on Thursday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Geschwindt wasn’t looking to take the eventual game-winning goal with 4:41 left in regulation. The opportunity just presented itself to her. Geschwindt was behind the Mount Olive cage when Paula Bush was awarded a free position shot. Her attempt was deflected and the ball rolled to the senior attack player.

“I was getting ready to follow the ball if it went past,” Geschwindt said. “I didn’t expect that I would pick it up right there. it was all about being in the game. I didn’t have a whistle to stop play so I just picked it up.”

At first Geschwindt was looking for a cutter to feed the ball to but the opportunity to put a shot on goal was too enticing to pass up. She picked a spot in the top, right corner of the net and fired in her righty shot.

“The goalie was totally out of the net,” Geschwindt said. “I remember how incredible it felt afterwards. It was something that I never really expected. I just remember that it was coming off a shot. I went and I picked it up and I just remembered I was going to the space and it all just happened so quickly.”

Klein’s goal was just as improbable. It happened a minute before Geschwindt’s. She was on the ride just trying to stay ready during Mount Olive’s clearing attempt. Suddenly, the ball just came bouncing toward her stick.

“There was a girl on the other team that was making a pass,” Klein said. “It was too short so I picked it up right in front of the goal. It doesn’t happen very often (on the ride) but it’s good to be there just in case it does. You just have to be ready for anything I guess.”

55 gl mct randmo  050114Randolph’s Carly Whitman is ready to launch a shot on net. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Klein scooped the ball up and fired a quick righty shot to the bottom left corner of the net with 5:46 left in regulation to tie the game at 15-all.

“It was instinct,” Klein said. “I had it in my stick and I kind of just went for it. I didn’t have too much time to think about it.”

Randolph could use a few breaks. It’s been a rough season for the 5-9 team which has a new coach and plenty of young players learning to compete on the varsity level. Gina Annunziata, a West Morris grad who also coaches field hockey at Randolph, didn’t try to overwhelm the players with changes in her first season.

“I play field hockey and she was the field hockey coach as well so I kind of knew her before the season started,” Klein said. “During practice she is very positive. She makes sure that we always keep our heads up. She pushes us.”

The coaches seem to focus on the team’s conditioning and putting their players in situations they can excel at.

“In the beginning of the season she figured out what we were about,” Klein said. “She learned everything about us and then from there she learned how to teach us.”

The Rams were 3-4 at one point in the season and then hit a 5-game losing streak that involved tough losses to Montclair, Ramapo and neighboring rival Roxbury. Against Mount Olive on Thursday, Randolph led 8-7 at the 3-minute mark. Then Mount Olive buried three consecutive goals including a score by Nicolette Thorkildsen with seven seconds left in the half to take a 10-8 advantage at the break. If some of those old frustrating feelings came back, the Rams were determined not to let it show.

“We talked a lot about keeping composure and the fact that the game wasn’t over yet,” Geschwindt said of the halftime talk. “Even though they were up a little bit we still came back strong.”

8 gl mct randmo  050114Mount Olive’s Sarah McEvoy can draw a crowd. The sophomore scored six goals in MCT play. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Mount Olive scored the first two goals of the second half to make it an 12-8 game before Randolph rallied. In a seven-minute span the Rams scored four consecutive goals by four different players to tie the game at 12-all by the 15-minute mark. The Marauders battled back and had a 15-13 lead with 8:25 left.

However, it would be the Rams game to win. An unassisted score by McGinniss made it a one-goal game with 6:46 left. Scores by Klein and Geschwindt soon followed. At around the two-minute mark Mount Olive had a pair of free position scoring opportunities but the ball never touched the back of the net. The Rams spent the final minutes in their offensive end keeping the ball away from the Marauders. Now they have a date with top-seeded juggernaut Mountain Lakes.

“It’s a huge challenge,” Geschwindt said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen but it’s going to be fun.”


About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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