CHATHAM, NJ - Senior defender Natalie Washuta found out before the game that she was going to be needed on offense for Chatham's North Jersey, Group 2 state tournament girls lacrosse game against Cranford.
Washuta did her part in the midfield with two goals and two assists - and got plenty of help from her teammates - as Chatham opened state tournament play with a 17-4 victory over Cranford at Haas Field on Wednesday.
Injuries to Kristen Maiorano and Bridget Ballard gave Chatham (10-8) a shortage of experience at midfield and coach Hilary Renna turned to Washuta.
"Once Kristen got injured, Bridget became our midfield sub and now that she's gone, Natalie is in," Renna said. "It was a good game for us. We were able to keep the level of play up, even with the subs in."
Fourth-seeded Chatham (10-8) will play host to fifth-seeded Madison in the sectional quarterfinals set for 4 p.m. Monday at Haas Field. Chatham defeated Madison, 17-13, during the regular season.
Senior Maddy Bowles collected five goals and two assists to lead the attack for Chatham, which also received three goals apiece from Morgan Sullivan and Alex Frenzel.
But Washuta did all her scoring in the first half when the Lady Cougars built a 12-1 lead.
"Today was my first goal of the season," Washuta said. "My freshman and sophomore seasons, I played midfield so I scored a couple times. It felt good. I pretty much played defense the entire season. For my summer team, I play midfield. Coach makes sure I keep up with all the plays. Before the game, she let me know that I'd play midfield."
Emily Wingate (2 goals, 3 assists) got Chatham started with an unassisted goal and Bowles came from behind the net her first goal. Wingate then connected for another unassisted tally before Bowles received a pass from Washuta and used a spin move to notch her goal.
Washuta's goal off a feed from Bowles made it 5-0. Sullivan also scored off a Washuta pass and Frenzel netted two goals. Washuta's goal on a feed from Wingate pushed the Chatham lead to 10-0 with 6:03 left in the first half.
Freshman Schuyler Bixby came on to score the 12th goal of the game for Chatham before the break.
Emily Wingate scores for Chatham in video below