CHATHAM, NJ - The top-seeded Chatham Cougars defeated the second-seeded Summit Hilltoppers 13-8 on home turf in the sectional State Finals on Thursday afternoon. Eight separate players on Chatham’s offense scored throughout the game to show a solid team effort. Osmulski led Summit with five goals.
Caroline Cordrey possessed at the draw and assisted Osmulski for a goal forty seconds in, and Kendall Speno and Kate Martino’s recoveries in the next six minutes enabled Osmulski to score two more unanswered goals.
When Summit was charged with a push, Jaclyn Leto of Chatham aimed for the net, but missed. Summit goalie Natalia Angelo stepped out while scoping out her pass, allowing Kate Murphy of Chatham to assist to Cat McCutcheon for an open shot eight minutes in.
“We were down 3-0 at the start of the game, and that happened the last time we played Summit. Our team chemistry came through, and we all started clicking, all of our girls started getting the draws and we had fun out there winning. When we play Summit, it’s always a 50/50 game, and Id on’t think there’s one point in time when we know we’re going to win,” Kelsey Perselay of Chatham commented after the game.
Leto took a shot that hit Summit’s post, but followed up with a goal at the 14:09 mark. Stuart Humphrey of Summit recovered and ended up scoring with 12 minutes left off an assist by Martino.
“We were able to connect all over the field. Our defense has improved since the start of the season and today, it was amazing, we came up with so many good stops against the best players in the state,” Leto commented.
Perselay traversed around Martino to score at the 10:39 mark, and fed the draw possession to Leto for a quick goal nine seconds later to tie the game at 4-4. When the zone cleared, Kristyn Hartwyk of Summit was injured and carried off the field on, which combined with Meghan Paytas’s absence on account of two yellow cards in the previous game to set Summit back two players.
Murphy charged Summit’s net after a shooting space call and scored to put Chatham up 5-4. Murphy caught the next draw and lent the ball to teammate McCutcheon, who assisted Brittany Marriott’s goal less than a minute later. Grella called time out as soon as Chatham caught the two-goal edge.
A push call kept Summit in Chatham’s zone and enabled Osmulski to score her fourth goal with 1:40 left. Chatham attack Kallan Murray pelted Summit goalie Angelo with two point-blank shots, and Angelo’s reflex failed to match the second, putting Chatham in the lead again at 7-5. Chatham possessed for the last minute and a half and circled Summit’s zone before McCutcheon scored the last goal with 22 seconds left, putting Chatham up 8-5.
“Towards the end of the first half, they came back, and in the second half, they came out strong and we tried our best, but there was nothing else we could do. Their transition and getting the draw was toughest on us. I wanted to win this game really bad because it’s my third time being here, and I did it for Meghan and my best friend, Kristyn, who got hurt,” Osmulski commented.
Perselay and Mary Kate O’Neill of Chatham christened the second half with a goal apiece six minutes in. Martino retrieved the next ball off the draw for an assist to Osmulski, who circled Chatham’s net before scoring four and a half minutes in.
Murphy assisted Perselay from behind Summit’s net for an overhead shot to goal forty seconds after Osmulski scored. Martino scored with a shot on goal in a mid-air dive thirty seconds later. Lauren Maiorano netted a goal with 14:25 left, and Chatham’s offense netted a goal with five minutes left to overwhelm Summit, 13-8.
“Towards the end, we just had to take it to goal because we were running out of time and needed to put in the shots, but they seemed to get away with it and took it away from us and possessed the ball on offense. They were being real aggressive on the body and I think we were just tired,” Martino commented.
Martino rallied against Chatham’s lead and earned two key possessions and a goal within the next three minutes, but Chatham’s offense held possession to ride out the victory, 13-8.
Summit Coach Rob Grella called the season “an amazing ride” and added, “At some point, you have to give credit to a very good team, and my guess is [Chatham] is going to win the group final. I’m proud of my team for not giving up today; there were times when the game could’ve went the other way and they fought ‘til the end.”
Chatham Coach Deb Marriott said, “They’re all good friends off the field and work together very well, and they just had each other’s backs. [Summit] is a cross-town rival, and they really get excited to play them... They didn’t give up. They re-collected themselves and made it happen. We were a little shaky in the midfield with ball-handling and our attackers weren’t settled, but then they got into a rhythm.”
Chatham will continue into the group final, and the rivalry between Chatham and Summit is bound to alight the turf next season.