BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The undefeated Lady Highlanders held off West Milford's strong second half performance on Monday afternoon. Senior Julia Martin led the team with five goals in the 15-12 girls lacrosse victory at home.
GL led 7-4 at halftime, however, the team forced passes and were unsettled, said Coach Aileen Musynke.
"The second half was better than the first half," said Musynke, who is in her first year as head coach. Musynke is a 2012 graduate of Drew University and four year lacrosse player for the Rangers.
"Instead of playing frantic, we saw what worked and what didn't -- and luckily it came out on top," said Musynke. "We were patient and it worked in our favor."
The team received strong performances from sophomore Lindsay Gerrato who recorded four goals and one assist, junior Steph Dowling scored three goals with one assist, and junior Alice Caballero added one goal and two assists, while junior Jackie Cassano and senior Erin Hannaford each posted one goal apiece. Sophomore Riley Jankowski added an assist.
Sophomore goalie Elizabeth Marobito recorded six saves in the win.
GL opened the second half with back to back goals by Gerrato and Caballero to advance the lead to five.
West Milford rallied and adjusted their offensive strategy with driving runs towards goal. These break aways were an effective approach to get by the strong defensive pressure of junior Julia Gilpin, senior Maddy Gerrato, senior Ryan Shepherd and Caballero.
"Out of their 12 goals, probably 9 came from fast breaks," said Musynke.
The game brewed excitement with each team scoring 8 second-half goals, including seven in a span of five minutes.
GL took charge with a three goal run, sparked by back to back goals by Martin, followed by a shot by Jackie Cassano. West Milford immediately answered with a three goal run of their own to keep the game within a three goal margin.
GL dominated the passing game and ground ball recovery, however, tweaks and adjustments need to be made to better handle the fast break, said Musynke.
With only four seniors, Musynke sees growth in her young team -- she sees growth and confidence in her players that will set the stage for the next few years.
Martin wants to go .500 in game wins for the season. "We are undefeated right now, we want to keep that up," said Martin. "We will be facing tougher competition later in the season, I hope to do well against them -- stepping it up from last year's games."
The Lady Highlanders will return to action on Thursday when they host Lenape Valley for a 4 p.m.