MILLBURN, NJ -- Senior Kelly O'Connor scored a season-high seven goals and passed for four assists to lead Livingston to a 20-15 girls lacrosse victory over previously unbeaten Millburn for the annual Border Cup Trophy on Tuesday.
Both teams came into the contest playing some of their best lacrosse of the season, and the matchup proved to be one worthy of a trophy for the winner. Livingston (7-3) established early momentum and then, several times, had to ward off menacing threats by Millburn (7-1), which rallied, but never tied the Lancers after halftime.
Emily Gaffney scored six goals and had one assist for Livingston, Avery Conklin scored three goals and had one assist and Leah Silvestri netted two goals and connected with her teammates with five assists. Hayley Locke and Carsyn Balter each added one goal for Livingston.
Livingston had a 12-8 halftime lead before O'Connor scored the first two goals of the second half, She made a one-on-one move with Livingston holding a player advantage and scored to extend the lead to 13-8 with 23:02 left. Then O'Connor converted a pass from Leah Silvestri with 22:22 left into another goal for a 14-8 lead.
After Millburn's Jordyn Lipkin scored one of her eight goals to cut the margin to 14-9, O'Connor struck again with a goal on the run from the right side with 17:35 left. With 16:00 left, Conklin scored from the top of the 8-meter on a free position shot to give Livingston its largest lead, 16-9.
Millburn rallied back with the next four goals to close to within 16-13 with 9:30 left, but after that, Livingston retained almost exclusive possession of the ball over the next five minutes. O'Connor circled behind the net with the ball and curled around to flick a shot in from the right side with 7:36 left to ignite a 4-0 Lancer run. Conklin followed with a goal with 4:37 left, O'Connor notched her seventh goal while Livingston owned a two-player advantage with 4:03 left, and Gaffney scored with 2:03 showing for a 20-13 lead.
"In today's game Kelly was determined to win and she took charge out there," Livingston head coach Jodi Mensch said. "Her ability to play both ends of the field is tremendous. She has the endurance to go the whole game and I try to never take her out of the game. She is my go to player in tight games and will always come through. She has a natural talent for shooting and can place the ball anywhere in the net. She has done that since her sophomore year."
Millburn scored twice in the final two minutes to shape the final score, but by that time, ownership of the Border Cup for the next year was clinched for the Lancers, whose defense down the stretch drew praise from Mensch.
"Kelsey Homberg, Chloe Testa, Aliza Gelman, Sara Cullen and Abby Stephenson held that defensive wall and got two charges called at key points in the game to change possession," said Mensch, who added that the leadership of O'Connor and Gaffney "along with an intense defensive stand provided the motivation to walk away with the trophy once again."
The coach added that "Conklin and Locke controlled the draw possessions from O'Connor. Conklin fought for nine possessions, Locke had six and O'Connor added four."
O'Connor now has 38 goals this season. Gaffney has 34 goals, and Silvestri leads the Lancers in assists now with 23.