THE CALDWELLS - According to a well-known adage: Don't look back, because someone may be gaining on you.
Well, if you're any one of the traditional field hockey powers in Essex County, namely West Essex Regional, Montclair High, Montclair Kimberley Academy and Glen Ridge, you should be on notice that things might just be changing.
For instance, sixth-seeded Millburn stunned No. 3 Glen Ridge, 3-2, in the Essex County Tournament, while No. 4 Montclair Kimberley Academy needed a somewhat fluky goal with 23 seconds left in regulation to survive a tough test from No. 5 Mount Saint Dominic Academy, by that same 3-2 score.
Now, however, the Mount has finally knocked-off MKA for the first time, as the Lady Lions roared to a 2-1 victory over the Lady Cougars in a Super Essex Conference clash on Oct. 26, at the Mountain Avenue fields complex in North Caldwell. That result pushed the Mount to 11-7-1 overall, while MKA fell to 10-8-1.
MKA scored early, but the Mount tied things up when Lauren Callahan, a senior midfielder from Roseland, tallied and tied the tight tilt at 1-0 on a penalty stroke.
The game-winning goal came with 11 minutes left in the second stanza off a corner shot by Jackie Smith, a junior midfielder from Parsippany, while Mount sophomore cage-controller Sydney Shearn made five saves in the invigorating victory.
“This the biggest regular season win in our program's (short, six season) history; we have finally proven that we can beat the stronger teams in the conference and we are no longer a team that should be overlooked,” said MSDA Head Coach Liz Gennaro, a member of the Wessex Class of 2006.
Both the Mount and MKA will open state tournament play on Nov. 4.
The nine-team NJSIAA North Jersey Non-Public playoffs bracket features Montclair Kimberley (which boasts several starters from the Caldwells area) in the four spot and the Mount as the sixth seed.
MKA will play host to No. 5 Pingry and MSDA will travel to take on Morristown-Beard in quarterfinal round clashes on Wednesday, with the section semi's skirmishes set for Nov. 7, and the tourney's title tilt on Nov. 10.
The top seed in N-P North is the nationally-ranked and unbeaten Oak Knoll School squad, while OK's crosstown competitor, the Kent Place School, is in the second space, followed by No. 3 Mo-Beard, No. 4 MKA, No. 5 Pingry, No. 6 MSDA, No. 7 Dwight-Englewood, No. 8 Mount Saint Mary Academy and the Academy of Saint Elizabeth at No. 9.
Both MSDA and MKA feature tri-captains from the Caldwells area: Amanda D'Alessandro, a senior from Essex Fells, is one of the Lady Cougars' three captains, while Lauren Callahan, a 12th-grader from Roseland is one of the three Lady Lions senior leaders.
“We're definitely excited to be seeded as high as sixth and I think the Mount vs. Mo-Beard will be a very good game,” summed Gennaro.