From the opening day of practice, the Chatham girls lacrosse team had an inkling that the 2015 season could be a special one.
The Cougars started the season 5-1 enroute to a 14-7 finish, won their fourth Morris County Tournament title and first since 2012 and advanced to the North Group II final after having their season end in the semifinals last season.
“They just had great team chemistry this year, from opening day of practice talking to the girls they felt like it was already midseason,” Chatham coach Hilary Renna said. “There was no learning curve to see how they played together, the chemistry just started right from the beginning and they were playing well and working as a real team unit.”
Which is why Chatham is the 2015 All Daily Record Girls Lacrosse Team of the Year.
Chatham outscored opponents 52-23 during its MCT run, then defeated rival Mountain Lakes 7-6 in double-overtime in the final.
Junior midfielder Bridget Ballard scored the game-winning goal with 28 seconds left in the second overtime to lead the Cougars to the MCT crown.
“That was really exciting for us, especially after last year losing to Mountain Lakes,” Renna said. “So getting the chance to come out and face them again and come out on top was really terrific.”
Chatham then entered into the state tournament having won six of its past seven games, and defeated Holy Angels, Ramapo and West Essex by a combined score of 47-23 before advancing to the sectional final after missing out last season. The Cougars, who last won the North Group II title in 2012, battled but fell to archrival Summit, 13-8.
The Cougars’ chemistry this season helped the team go undefeated against Morris County competition and hang tough with teams such as Oak Knoll, Bridgewater-Raritan and Ridgewood. With the experience this season’s team gained and the big game situations they found themselves in, Chatham should be ready to come out firing next spring.
“The seniors left a great legacy and they set the bar incredibly high for everyone following them,” Renna said. “The team chemistry we had was because of the seniors, every underclassmen I spoke to any time during the season was having a great time and felt so welcome and that set the tone for how everyone on the team should act.”
Staff Writer Lauren Knego: 973-428-6674; email@example.com