MADISON – Anything is possible come tournament time.
The second-seeded Madison High School field hockey team survived a scare and defeated seventh-seeded Morristown, 2-1, in the quarterfinal round of the Morris County Tournament on Monday after Chase Cmaylo scored the game-winning goal with 5:36 remaining in overtime on an assist from Margaret Sheeleigh.
“I thought it was 100 percent teamwork until the very end,” said first-year Madison head coach Tori Rossi, whose team improved to 9-2 on the season. “Margaret had a very
unselfish play. I’m so proud of her. She took the ball 75 yards and she could have easily shot herself. It was unbelievable leadership until the end. It was definitely a hard fight. Morristown gave us a really good battle. They’re a really good team. I’m just glad we finished in the end.”
After 60 minutes of play in regulation, both teams were desperately searching for the goal to send them to the county semis.
The connection between Sheeleigh and Cmaylo proved to be the difference.
“I knew Chase would be there,” Sheeleigh said. “Chase is always there to finish. She always has my back. We’re a team first.”
“We’ve been playing field hockey together for a while,” Cmaylo said of the connection between the two players. “I think it was just lucky both of us were in the circle at the right time.”
Madison, the defending county tournament champion, certainly had to earn the victory on Monday.
Morristown’s Brittany Hoftijzer gave the visitors a 1-0 lead in the first half on an assist from Sydney Familo.
Sheeleigh nearly had the equalizer after taking the ball the length of the field and delivering a powerful strike, but Morristown goalie Emily Prachthauser was there for the stop. Prachthauser was credited with nine saves on the day.
Morristown went into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
Rossi said the message at half was to play as a team rather than individually.
“I thought we were playing a little individually in the first half and we were a little timid,” the coach said. “We knew it was a big game. It was 100 percent mental as it was
physical. They brought it as a team in the second half.”
Madison found the equalizer when June Sirna scored on an assist from Sophie Chau.
Both teams had chances the rest of the way, including a corner for Madison at the end of regulation, but the teams were destined for overtime.
Madison finished with a 9-3 advantage in corners. The Dodgers had 10 shots on goal to Morristown’s six.
Both goalies in Prachthauser and Madison’s Charlotte Villano were strong in key situations. Villano is a new starter and has been an anchor for Madison this season. Seven of the nine Dodger victories this season has come by shutout.
“She communicates well with our backs and she’s confident with herself,” Rossi said of Villano. “She has a lot of saves this season and I think she’s going to come through in all the big games for us.”
For Morristown, which fell to 6-8 on the year, the effort and determination was there.
“I’m really proud of them,” said Morristown head coach Katherine DeBiasse on her team. “Every game that we play against Madison is a great game. It has been going on for
a really long time. It’s always exciting to play them. It always brings out the best in my girls. We played a really nice game and I’m sorry to see the Morris County Tournament
come to an end. I believe they deserve to go a little bit further.”
As it showed on Monday, often times in the county tournaments you can throw the seeds out the window.
“Any team can beat any team on any given day,” DeBiasse said. “Whoever comes to play is the one who deserves to win.”
The Colonials have really come on since a tough start to the season. They beat a quality Bridgewater-Raritan team and they’ve competed against a ton of quality teams.
Madison takes on third-seeded Morristown-Beard in the county tournament semifinals.
Mo-Beard was a winner over sixth-seeded Mendham in the quarterfinals. The Dodgers defeated Morristown-Beard 3-1 on Sept. 17.
“Mo-Beard’s going to be a tough battle, just like today,” Rossi said. “They’re a very skilled team. I think we just need to come out as Madison field hockey, play 100 percent
and we’ll be OK.”
As for the pressure of defending the county crown, Sheeleigh isn’t too worried about that.
“It’s nothing that we can’t live up to,” she said. “I think we do well under pressure".