Mountain Lakes girls count on senior leadership

By Mark Kitchin

MOUNTAIN LAKES — The lacrosse players at Mountain Lakes make the game look easy at times. The ball seems to always find a Laker stick on the draw. A short time later it rests in the back of an opponent’s net and the girls in orange and blue are congratulating themselves once again. And so it goes.

Tuesday was no exception in a 17-5 win over a good Montville team in the quarterfinals of the Morris County Tournament. The top-seeded Lakers built a 12-2 lead by halftime. After a few more goals assured a running time clock, the bench was emptied and the starters could enjoy the moment and start thinking about the next opponent.

“We’ve definitely worked a lot on chemistry and getting used to each other. For the most part we’ve been working on that for as long as we’ve been in high school. It hasn’t been that much different,” senior attack Nicole Kalamaras said. “A big goal of ours has been to not just practice hard but to improve every single game. Every single day we want to come back better from it. We want to push each other.”

Many of the players were in a reflective mood on Tuesday. It was Senior Day and all the seniors were in the starting lineup. They got a chance to remember what they have learned over the years to shape them as players and how that has led up to their current responsibilities.

24 gl mct mlmtv  050614Mountain Lakes’ Rachel Treweeke offers a shot despite being sandwiched by Montville defenders. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“It’s important to be led by a group of seniors because they have so much experience,” senior center Jackie Perry said. “Last year we were fortunate enough to be led by a great group and we are just trying to mirror them and lead our underclassmen like they did for us.”

Mountain Lakes has eight seniors on the team and all of them contribute. Their leadership is one of the reasons that the Lakers have been so dominating this year.

“If you look back like when I was a junior or a sophomore or a freshman, it’s helpful to have those seniors out there to direct you,” Nicole Kalamaras said. “Sometimes there are situations that you are not used to being new to the field and you can look up to them and figure out what needs to be done.”

The 16-1 Lakers are doing all the right things. They are an offensive juggernaut averaging more than 14 goals a game. Their ability to score goals as well as their ability to capture the draw and maintain lengthy possessions limit an opponent’s offense to 7.4 goals a contest.

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Nicole Kalamaras makes a move to the cage during Tuesday’s MCT win. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The offense looks slightly different from years past. The Lakers have upgraded their stick work skills, so they aren’t prone to the heavy dodging of the past. They take advantage of Victoria Kalamaras’ pin-point passing. Often the Lakers senior, who has 38 assists, can find a position where she can pick and choose cutters at the moment they are open to break free for open shots.

“Last year we have a lot of really great drivers and we still do this year,” Perry said. “We’ve been working a lot on the catching and finishing which we have improved on a lot.”

The draw as always looms large in the Lakers’ success. Because there are fewer girls in the circle this year, Perry and Victoria Kalamaras have a better chance of pulling the ball to their more aggressive teammates.

“We are really strong with ground balls, just running through them and pushing with transition are what we’ve been working on,” Perry said. “There used to be four pairs in the circle and now there are only two. So it gives you more room.

“The people in the outside of the circle have been doing a great job. It all just comes down to who wants it more, who is going for the ball and who is running through it.”

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Meredith Newfrock knows how important getting those ground balls can be for the Mountain Lakes’ offense. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Mountain Lakes’ single loss to Summit happened with an 11-10 defeat on March 31. The defeat on home turf was a good reality check to show the Lakers how good they were at that point and maybe how good they need to be since the Hilltoppers are also a capable squad. The Lakers always have to be mindful — even during their dominating performances — that no matter how well they perform, they need to be better.

“It’s not the difference in what the score is, it’s doing what we needed to do and did we capitalize on what we do,” Nicole Kalamaras said. “We don’t want to be the team waiting. We want to be the team that is being out there and being aggressive and working to our potential.”

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Winning the draw looms large in the Lakers’ game plan. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

So the Lakers endure the hard practices and work to become both physically and mentally tougher. Over the years Mountain Lakes has established themselves as a consistently successful program filled with dedicated players with the aim of being the absolute best in the Garden State. This year’s squad knows it is capable of achieving that goal.

“We know we still have a lot of hard work to do before we get to where we want to be,” senior midfielder Victoria Kalamaras said. “We believe that we can do it. We just want to keep working hard.”

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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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