CHATHAM, NJ - After playing its best first half of the season, it all unraveled quickly for the Chatham girls lacrosse team after the break against Summit.
The Hilltoppers scored the first five goals of the second half to build a six-goal lead and wound up with a 14-6 victory that tagged Chatham with its first loss of the season on Wednesday at Haas Field.
Chatham (4-1) trailed, 4-3, at the half, but it started to get away in the opening seconds of the second half. Bridget Ballard came up with the draw for Chatham and sprinted toward the Summit goal while junior middie Beth Kuyk went down with a sprained ankle.
Ballard had her shot saved by Summit goalie Kady Glynn, who finished with seven saves, and seconds after Kuyk was helped off the field, Sara Szynal scored on the other end to make it 5-3.
"I think when Beth (Kuyk) got injured right at the beginning of the second half, it was a little shocking," Chatham coach Hilary Renna said. "She had been playing awesome defense in the first half, the best I had seen her play all season. The ref started the game before I even had her on the sideline. Before I knew it, I turned around and the the ball was in the back of our net."
Summit (4-1), determined to rebound from its 14-10 loss to Oak Knoll last Thursday, then got consecutive goals from Catherine Cordrey, Liv Kelly, Isabel Zachara and Mary Fischetti to build a 9-3 lead with 13:15 to play.
"We really emphasized the first five minutes of the second half and we really wanted to get possession," Summit coach Mike Walsh said. "We needed to bounce back from our last game. We weren't tough physically and mentally (in the loss to Oak Knoll) and I thought we were tougher physically and mentally today.
"We didn't make plays Thursday and we made them today. If it's a 50-50 ball, we need to have possession of the ball because we think we can probably do good things when we have the ball."
But Chatham wasn't done yet. Maggie O'Neill connected for the Lady Cougars before Zoe Kraus cut over the middle and scored off a feed from Ballard to make it a 9-5 game with 10:17 to go. Ballard followed with a dodge and drive to the net that she finished to make it 9-6. But that was the last goal Chatham would get.
Summit closed out the game by dominating the possession and finishing the second half with a 10-3 goal advantage.
"I think out first half was awesome; it was the best we played," O"Neill said. "I think that the score does not reflect how close that game was and we'll see them again in states. We're going to turn it around and get better from this. It's not going to bring us down, it's gong to make us better. We needed the ball. It's about 50-50s and the little things."
The first half was tightly contested, with Chatham, perhaps, surprising Summit with the intensity of its defensive effort. Lady Cougar goalie Gislina Saul came up with six of her 10 saves in the first 25 minutes.
"In the first half, we were coming up with the draws, but we weren't possessing the ball for a long period of time," Renna said. "We played defense for a long time."
Summit held a 2-0 lead when Chatnam picked up its offense in the first half. Ballard hit Mortgan Sullivan with a pass down low for a goal that made it 2-1 with 7:19 left before the break. Emily Wingate's free position shot cut it to 3-2 for Chatham before Abby Morgan threw in a high shot off a pass from O'Neill to make it 3-3.
"There are a lot of things that we did wrong that are totally fixable," Renna said. "The first half we played the best defense we had played all season, so that is a huge positive for us going forward. Now our goal is to make that a 50-minute game."