CHATHAM, NJ - Three games vs. West Morris this season. Three losses by one goal.
The Chatham girls soccer team did not back down from the challenge, but West Morris was the one team that had the Lady Cougars number this season and the Wolfpack completed its 2017 trifecta, 2-1, in the semifinals of the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 state tournament at a damp Haas Field on Monday.
"We're not as big, but it's not the size of the dog in the fight it's the size of the fight in the dog," Chatham coach Gary Adair said of his team's fight to the end. "In the second half, we started to do the simple things. Win the balls off the goal kicks and take advantage of our set plays on corner kicks. We nearly got lucky there at the end, but it wasn't to be. The effort was there 100 percent."
West Morris (13-8-1) converted a penalty kick to take a 1-0 lead in the 48th minute. Chatham (14-6) made a bid to tie the game when sophomore Jen Olnowich's shot caught the Wolfpack goalie off her line. But A West Morris defender headed the ball away to save a goal.
Five minutes later, West Morris got its second goal for a 2-0 lead. Chatham did score the best goal of the day when freshman Sophie Straka chipped the ball into the box, where senior Sophia Reed ran onto it and put it away with 1:46 showing on the clock. It was Reed's 10th goal of the season and her fifth in three state tournament games.
"The seniors have really, as a group, stepped up this year," Adair said. "They've all really wanted to win and all be a part of the journey. Give them a lot of credit for what they've done. They've worked really hard."
Half of the Chatham losses this season came at the hands of West Morris, which also knocked the Lady Cougars from the Morris County Tournament.
"As a senior and a captain, there is nothing more than I can ask," Chatham senior defender Olivia Robertson said. "Our team, the freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors came out and gave us everything they've got. I couldn't have asked for a better team or a better coach. We're all going to get food, hang out and probably cry a lot. That's what a team is. Win or lose, we're a team."
Chatham scored a total of 48 goals on the season with nine different players hitting the back of the net.
One of the corner kicks in the second half that Chatham just couldn't put in the net
Sophie Straka tries to get her foot on the loose ball in front of the net for Chatham