CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham coach Hilary Renna told her girls lacrosse players that it was the best defensive effort she had seen yet from them this season.
That statement had been conveyed to the Westfield offense during the course of the game. Westfield scored the first three goals of the game, but managed just one goal in the second half as the Lady Cougars rallied for an 8-5 win at Haas Field on Tuesday. It was Chatham's third straight victory.
"The defense was huge," Renna said. "I told them after the game, it was the best game we've played yet. Everyone was on the same page, checking in and ready to help. On each stop they got more hopped up. The defense feeds off the attack's success and vice versa."
The turning point for Chatham (4-2) came in the closing seconds of the first half when Catherine McNiff picked up a ground ball in the offensive end, which led to Schuyler Bixby's goal with 6.4 seconds left, slicing the deficit to 4-3.
Early in the second half, Zoe Kraus pressured the Westfield goalie into a rushed pass and Bixby made the interception and scored to tie it at 4-4.
"We knew when we were down by one at halftime, we were not playing our game," Bixby said. "So we wanted to come out strong and get a couple of goals. The defense came up huge. They played so amazing, we totally fed off of their energy. Attacks had to pull through, not just for us, but for the entire team as well."
After Bixby tied it up, Emilie de Keyzer scored off a pass from Abby Morgan. A Little more than a minute later, de Keyzer struck again, dodging her way past two defenders to score for a 6-4 Chatham lead.
Bixby scored her third goal of the game with a low shot that beat the goalie after receiving a pass from behind the net from de Keyzer, making it 7-4. Westfield (2-3) cut it to 7-5 before Lady Cougar defender Bella Marshall caused a turnover with a stick check and Chatham goalie Kat Friday scooped the ball up to gain possession.
That defensive play led to Abby Morgan's second goal of the game as de Keyzer picked up her third assist to make it 8-5.
Goalie Kat Friday and defender Bella Marshall talk about the defense and the chemistry building on the Chatham team
Friday made a number of clutch stops in the second half when she came up with five of her six saves.
Emilie de Keyzer's unassisted goal in the second half staked Chatham to a 6-4 lead