CHATHAM, NJ - It's still September and the Chatham field hockey team already has matched its win total of a year ago.
Chatham reached that mark on Monday when senior Ellie Walker scored two goals and junior goalie Abby Walrond posted a shutout as the Lady Cougars defeated Millburn, 3-0, at Haas Field.
Chatham, now 6-4, won just six games for the entire 2015 season and the way the Lady Cougars dominated the action vs. Millburn, it looks like the 2016 team is heating up as the weather cools down.
"Yes, absolutely (this is one of the best games Chatham has played)," Walker said.
The Lady Cougars pressed forward and had a number of good chances to score, but headed into the halftime break tied at 0-0.
"At halftime we told them that Millburn is a very good, aggressive team," Chatham coach Kaitlin Leyden said. "We told them they had to go out there and be more hungry. They went out there in the first two minutes fired up."
Just 1:43 into the second half, senior midfielder Kate Purschke centered the ball and Walker knocked it in for a 1-0 lead.
Just 2:49 later, Amrita Sooklal scored what could be described as the "goal of the year" to date, using a reverse stick to redirect a shot on goal by Caroline Paulson into the net for a 2-0 advantage.
Chatham used some excellent stick work to score its third goal, too. Junior midfielder Noelle Bessette stripped the ball loose outside the 25 and made a run up the middle, hitting the ball toward the goal. Walker was in the right place again, firing a shot home to make it 3-0 with 12:12 to go.
"It was a good game," Leyden said. "Our best game is still to come. They were ready to go in warm-ups. We were very good from the defense through to the forwards."
Walrond came up with a number of big stops when the game was still scoreless, including a diving stick save. She finished with 12 saves and was ably defended by Tess Wakefield, who was a ball hawk in defusing Millburn runs the entire game.
Chatham's midfield of Purschke, Bessette and Charlotte Buckman took control from the start. Buckman was named the MVP of the game by the coaches for her stellar play.
Ellie Walker and Charlotte Buckman, named the MVP of the game, talk about the victory