CHATHAM, NJ - The Lady Cougars shined bright under the lights at Cougar Field on Thursday night, as the Chatham field hockey team got a goal from Noelle Bessette in overtime to notch a 2-1 victory against Mount Olive.
While the offense was a strong suit for the Lady Cougars, it was the goalkeeping of senior Abby Walrond, who finished with 20 saves, that ultimately was the difference.
The match may not have even gotten to overtime if it weren’t for Walrond, who came up big in net, including a huge save off a penalty stroke with just over 16 minutes remaining.
“No matter how much training you have for strokes, all you can really do is block the stroke,” Walrond
said. “Nothing really goes through my head. I just focus in on the ball and nothing else matters.”
Prior to that, the Lady Cougars captured the lead in the first half, as the ball was fired off the stick of
Lauren Mumby to give Chatham (7-4-2) the 1-0 lead just eight minutes into the match. Chatham would hold the lead until the halftime buzzer, but Mount Olive (8-5) came out in a fury in the second half, knotting the score at 1-1 just under two minutes into the second half.
“I always tell the team, it doesn’t matter what the score is, it’s always 0-0,” Chatham coach Kaitlin Leyden
said about how her team had to regroup following the game-tying goal. “The girls just kept going and
they did not get tired.”
The two sides traded offensive chances until the 16:16 mark of the second half, when Walrond made a
miraculous diving save on a Mount Olive penalty stroke to keep the score deadlocked at 1-1.
“We practice a lot of strokes on Abby,” Leyden said. “When we saw a stroke, I was like ‘oh, she has it.’ ”
The match would go to overtime, and with 2:28 to play until the final horn, Besette was able to
find the back of the net to give Chatham the victory, sending the team and the crowd into a frenzy.
“It was a fast-paced game,” Leyden said. “They never gave up. They were very aggressive and I think the girls really rose to the occasion, especially with the atmosphere.”
The atmosphere Leyden was referring to was the student section filled with students wearing neon-colored clothing, as well as the game being played under the lights.
“Being a senior, and being here, we were so pumped,” Walrond said. “In the locker room, we had the biggest party, just pumping each other up.”
The Lady Cougars are back in action on Monday on the road as they take on Morristown-Beard at 4 p.m.