CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham girls lacrosse team viewed its last regular-season game on Friday as the end of one season and the start of another.
Chatham closed out the first portion of its schedule with an impressive 18-7 victory over Kent Place on "Senior Day." The Lady Cougars begin their "new season" on Saturday at 3 p.m. when they open play in the Morris County Tournament with a home first-round game against Pequannock.
"We're coming in really strong for the county tournament" senior defender Natalie Washuta said. "We're the No. 3 seed and we're looking to prove ourselves in the new season. We're going to come out even stronger in the new season. We're ready to go."
Chatham (6-7) was on its game early against Kent Place (4-8). Emily Wingate scored an unassisted goal just 26 seconds into the game and Bridget Ballard followed by scoring off a pass from Maddy Bowles. Allie Rogers connected for Kent Place before Chatham poured it on.
Ballard (4 goals, 1 assist) lost the ball, but got it back and scored to make it 3-1. Wingate then netted consecutive goals to give her a hat trick less than five minutes into the action. Bowles (4 goals, 2 assists) followed with a goal and then set up a score by Maggie O'Neill for a 7-1 advantage.
The Lady Cougars would score 12 straight goals before taking a 14-2 lead into the break. Chatham received goals from seven different players, including one apiece by Morgan Sullivan and Beth Kuyk and two from Alex Frenzel.
Chatham made its first-half run look easy, winning draw after draw and turning them into goals.
"I think we're definitely coming together at the end of our season,' Chatham coach Hilary Renna said. "We knew we had to really step up and win the draws today. The draws come down to guts and grittiness. We had a different strategy today. We put girls in different spots on it. Switching it up a little."
Chatham also received an inspired performance from little-used senior goalie Elisabeth Pontius, who received the "beast" award for her big saves in the first half. She finished with five stops.
"We had our senior goalie play the whole game and she played awesome," Renna said. "She actually got the game award, we call it "the beast" and she won it. She had some really good saves."
Washuta sensed a different intensity for Chatham, which was missing one of its most intense players, Kristen Maiorano, who is out with a concussion.
"I thought our intensity was really great today," Washuta said. "Everyone was not only playing for the seniors on senior day, we were playing for each other. If somebody dropped a pass and didn't make a play, we were right there for each other and backing each other up. "