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Girls Lax Rallies, But Falls Short In Mount Olive


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Last Friday, they Lady Hillbillies made the hour-long drive on 80 West to play the 13-1 Group Four power Mount Olive in Flanders on the sprawling campus of Mount Olive High School. With the state playoff seeding already set earlier that day, and Verona earning the #3 seed in the North 2, Group 1 bracket giving them a first round bye and being able to host the quarterfinal round game, this final regular season game, on paper, was meaningless.

And Verona started the game appearing to have that mindset as the Marauders jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks in part to six unforced errors by the Hillbillies, forcing Verona to call a timeout to try to stop the bleeding and regroup. Out of the time out, Senior captain Cecilia “CC” Courter responded by capturing the ensuing draw and sprinting past the Mount Olive defense before bouncing the Hillbillies first score through the Mount Olive goalie’s legs. But the first half would end 9-2 in favor of Mount Olive and it looked like it would be a long afternoon for the Hillbillies.

It must have been some kind of halftime speech by the Verona coaching staff because the Lady Hillbillies came out of halftime looking like a completely different team.

The second half comeback was led by midfielder Courter, who scored three of her game-high four goals, including her 50th and 51st of the season, and an assist in the second half while creating turnovers and multiple stops on the defensive end to send the Hillbillies on a six goal run to narrow the deficit to 9-8 with a little over three minutes remaining in the game. The Hillbillies were also aided by strong goaltending play from sophomore Skyler Freedman, who ended the game with 10 saves. Senior Ashley Nigro helped the second half surge with two goals, while senior Maggie Ashley and junior Emily Coppola each scored a goal apiece. Sophomore midfielder Maggie Lonsinger was a standout on defense and in the draw circle once again, while also assisting on Coppola’s goal.

Despite outscoring Mount Olive 6-2 in the second half, Verona fell just short of the win, giving up the 10th goal with just under two minutes left, eventually losing by a final score of 11-8. But after looking like a blowout was imminent, the Lady Hillbillies could feel good about their response and how they dominated play in the second half.

With a 10-7 regular season record in the books, #3 seed Verona will host #6 seed Morristown Beard at Verona High School this Thursday, May 18, at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 16 at 4 p.m. with the winner to play in the semifinal round on Tuesday, May 22.

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Laurie Sona, 69

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