CHATHAM, NJ - In her pre-game speech, Chatham assistant field hockey coach Kim Pyhel told the story about walking her dog and relating that sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and let the dog off the leash to chase that squirrel.
Pyhel's point was that it was time to release the energy built up by the Lady Cougars and "unleash it" against their opponent, West Morris.
The postscript to the story might be that sometimes the squirrel gets chased up the tree and unexpectedly hits the dog in the head with an acorn.
Chatham was dealing with a figurative and literal bop to the head on Monday after a tough-to-take 2-1 loss to West Morris at Haas Field.
The Lady Cougars, playing in front of a home crowd that included members of the football team, came out of the gate fast, striking first in the 12th minute. Annie Leverich split the defense with a dribble down the middle and sent a pass that Julia Mueller ran onto and knocked home (see the video below) at the right post for a 1-0 Chatham lead.
"There was really good energy," Mueller said. "We were pumped and really excited for this game, playing them at home. It felt really good in the beginning. I think we pulled back a little in the second half."
The score was tied 1-1 in the second half when everything went sideways in a span of a few minutes. Chatham senior forward Lauren Mumby was hit in the back of the head with a struck ball and had to come off the field. Soon after, Chatham was hit with a card that put them a player down and that's when West Morris took advantage and scored its decisive goal.
"(A West Morris player) hit it and the ball hit the back of my head," Mumby said. "They scored the goal when I was out and I really wanted to get back in and help the team. The past couple years they've ended our season in the states and since that has happened, this has been our target team. We really know them well."
Chatham (3-3) had won, 2-1, in the season opener played at West Morris (5-1-2) on Sept. 8 and Mueller and company wanted to make it two in a row.
"We beat them at their field for the first time in 10 years, so we wanted to keep that momentum going," Mueller said. "We have our passes down. Sometimes these games just happen. We were the team that wanted it more.We're definitely playing well as a team, but the feeling isn't great right now."