MONTVILLE, NJ - For the Montville girls lacrosse team, much of the focus this season has been on rising sophomore midfielder Maddy Kelly, who has emerged as the team's top scoring threat with 30 goals going into Saturday's Morris County Tournament game against Parsippany.
But on Saturday, the team showed off a very balanced attack. Multiple players were involved offensively, highlighted by senior Gwyn Tropia's six-goal effort, as the 10th-seeded Mustangs moved past 23rd-seeded Parsippany, 16-5 in the first round of the Morris County Tournament at Montville Township High School.
Tropia's six goals marked a season-high for the senior attacker. Kelly added four goals to increase her season total to 34, while sophomore midfielder Julia Bruno tallied four goals and three assists. Isabella Mangano had just one goal but dished out five assists, and Julia Demetropoulos also found her way onto the scoresheet with a goal.
The win punched Montville's ticket to the second round, where it will travel to face seventh seed Roxbury next Saturday at a time to be determined.
“It was a team effort but scoring six goals was very exciting," Tropia, who is committed to play at Sacred Heart University next year, said. "I think it got the team really pumped up. It was teamwork, and it’s all I could ask for. They set me up, they assisted, and I’m just excited for the next round. We see Roxbury next Saturday. But I think scoring six goals coming from the defensive side set the tone for the game.”
While the score was certainly lopsided in Montville's favor, the early moments of the game presented some tense moments for the squad. Parsippany had a couple of scoring opportunities in the opening minutes which could have swung the momentum in favor of the Red Hawks- but goalie Charlotte Weinstein was there to make some key early saves.
It built a two-goal lead shortly thereafter on goals from Bruno and Kelly, but it took until the final 10 minutes of the half for Montville to really find its game. Christina Fitzsimmons cut Montville's lead to 3-1 with 9:20 left, but just under two minutes later Tropia got on the board for her first of the game which began an impressive run.
Montville went on to score five more goals in the half to take a 9-1 lead into halftime before adding six more in the second half to build a 15-1 advantage.
"After we got into our game plan and we settled in the second half, we came out on fire," Tropia said. "But yes, I do think we need to work on coming out better for Roxbury because it’s another game, and we need to be on our game from the first minute of the game.”
Parsippany did not go away quietly though, as it found the back of the net four times late to cut into the deficit. Julissa Hernandez scored four times for the Red Hawks, while Fitzsimmons also had her first half goal to round out the scoring.
Saturday's win brought Montville back to the .500 mark at 5-5, which is indicative of the up-and-down campaign the Mustangs have experienced thus far. Growing pains were expected for this young roster, but this team is hopeful that the early losses it has experienced will prepare it for the tougher tests that it will face in the remainder of the season, as it moves forward in the Morris County Tournament and gets ready for next month's state tournament.
“I think our team this year is really strong, we have a lot of good players," Kelly said. "Our attack, especially, all the girls can shoot. For the rest of the season, we’re going to play a lot of hard teams and I think we have a good chance to play really well against them and show what we can do this year. I’m excited for the rest of the season.”
Tropia added, "We’re at a great point in the season in the middle of the season, and we’re really killing it. Just the team bonding and everything is the best. We had a hard two weeks, but I think we’re stepping up and we’re using those losses as a push to keep fighting and succeed in our next few games.”
Montville's next home game is on Tuesday, April 23 against Verona at 4 p.m.
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