MONTVILLE, NJ - After graduating its two top scorers from last season in Ashley Colaiacovo and Nicole Feaster, the Montville girls lacrosse team figures to be a younger roster with some major shoes to fill.

But so far, there is much to feel good about with this team. It opened up the year with an impressive 12-10 win over Cedar Grove, which was a big confidence boost for a team that won only five games in 2018. 

"This season has been a blast so far," Montville coach Julia Happe said. "These kids work so hard and are so coachable, and they’re on board with everything I throw at them. We saw some really good competition in our preseason, which I think has helped prepare us in terms of being relentless and hungry, as well as composed. This preparation played a huge role in our win against Cedar Grove. We still have a lot to work on, but I’m very proud of the way these girls persevered."

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The team's strength figures to be on the defensive end this year, as it returns a veteran group of players in the backfield which includes seniors Morgan Fall and Shayna Hay, junior Anna Rehberg and sophomore Julia Kelly. It also features a first-year starter in goal in sophomore Charlotte Weinstein.

The Mustangs' midfield will be anchored by senior and Sacred Heart commit Gwyn Tropia, who tallied 11 goals, 7 assists, and 20 ground balls in 2018. Juniors Reese Henderson (10 g., 9 a., 11 gb.) and Livia Shine (12 g., 5 a., 24 gb.) are also key pieces, while sophomore Madeline Kelly is the team's top returning scorer after scoring 33 times with 12 assists last year.

On the attacking end of the field, Montville has very little experience, but Happe praised this unit as being both coachable and tenacious. Senior Jillian Howar, junior Marissa Bordonaro, sophomore Julia Bruno and freshman Bella Mangano all figure to be factors in this area of the field.

The team competes in the difficult NJGILL-Freedom South Division, which includes some strong teams such as Madison, Verona, Morristown-Beard and Montclair Kimberley. Last week, the Mustangs played their home opener on Monday against an out-of-conference opponent in Pequannock with a 12-10 win, and opened up divisional play at home against Kent Place on Wednesday with a loss of 8-11. Then it traveled to face Montclair Kimberley on Friday, which ended with a loss of 18-6. 

"This is a great group of girls," Happe said. "They play so hard and it’s been a joy to see them become more and more confident each day. There’s definitely going to be ups and downs this season- there always is- but I think this team has the right attitude and commitment to rise above and take it day-by-day, game-by-game. I’m excited to see what this season has in store.”

Happe added, "We play a tough schedule and every game is against a great team. Our expectation is to stay competitive in all of those contests, and to come out on top in close ones. This group definitely has the ability to do it- they proved it against Cedar Grove."

The Mustangs’ next home game is on Monday, April 8 against Madison at 4:30 p.m.

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