Parsippany senior goalie Jasmine Chen remembers the reputation that the field hockey program had at her school just a few years ago.
So despite a 5-3 loss on Monday to second-seeded West Essex in the North 1 Group II sectional final, Chen knew she had plenty to be proud of, with the changing of that reputation being at the top of the list.
“A lot of people say to me, ‘Oh you brag so much about your team,’ ” said Chen, who had 15 saves. “But honestly three years ago we weren’t even on the map. People were constantly telling us we weren’t a sport, that we don’t do anything, that we don’t work hard enough. And now here we are in the state sectional finals, the furthest any field hockey team have ever gone at Parsippany, and we are undefeated conference champs back-to-back years. If that doesn’t make you believe that we are a sport, that we are a force to be reckoned with, I don’t know what is going to change your mind.”
The Red Hawks gave the Knights all they could handle on the day, becoming just the second team to score multiple goals on the West Essex defense all season.
Two of those goals came from Parsippany star Krysten Mayers, who scored the first goal late in the first half to bring her team within 3-1 on a shot even she couldn’t believe.
“I was so happy when my first goal scored,” she said. “I have only done that once and it was at practice. I think it was like a sweep and it hit the head of my stick so it went in the air. It was pretty cool.”
Mayers would add her second goal in the midst of a late rally by the Red Hawks that brought them from trailing 5-1 to within 5-3.
The rally started after Mayers returned to the field following a two minute green card and she instantly made an impact, helping her team earn a corner just over a minute following her return to the field.
Mayers let loose a shot from the top of the circle on the corner that was saved, but junior Katie Lips was able to knock the rebound into the back of the cage to bring her team within three. The rally continued with a few near misses for Parsippany including a Mayers reverse stick shot that just hit the left post after getting through the defense.
The Red Hawks final goal came with 4:49 left when they earned a penalty stroke when a West Essex defender saved a shot from going with their foot during a penalty corner.
“Oh my goodness I was so nervous,” Mayers said of the feeling as she stepped up to take the stroke. “I just wanted to keep it simple because I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to score a goal. So low left is probably my simplest stroke.”
That plan worked to perfection as Mayers shot got past the West Essex goalie and into the low left corner of the cage, for what would turn out to be the game’s final goal as Parsippany wasn’t able to convert again.
While the game marked the end of the storied careers of the Parsippany seniors, their coach knows their legacy will live on for years.
“I think they have really started a trend at Parsippany,” coach Rebecca Lilienthal said. “They have raised the bar and the expectations for our program are very high right now. They have done wonders for us, which is really great.”