WEST CALDWELL — Monday’s 12-7 win over Montclair officially puts the Caldwell High School girls lacrosse team squarely in the middle of the discussion for the best team in Essex County, and one of the best teams in the state, at 10-0.
Sure, they still have to beat West Essex and Glen Ridge, but at least for one week, the Lady Chiefs would have no argument if you called them the top team in the county. The Lady Chiefs were seeded third in the county tournament which opens Saturday (see related story on this page).
Consider the last three games: A 15-2 shellacking of Governor Livingston, a 14-5 stomping of Millburn and then the victory over Montclair, in which the Lady Chiefs went on the road and outscored the Lady Mounties, 6-2, in the final 25 minutes of play.
First, on the offensive side of the ball, they literally have about five to six girls who can score multiple goals, and more important, create their own offense.
This past week, Lexie Sodano decided to takeover, leading the team with 10 goals in three games, while Georgia Mergner netted eight goals and six assists and Ijeoma Ikpe had six goals and four assists. Caldwell can also get scoring from Emily Banaszynski and Meredith Weber.
With an offense like that, the only thing they need is for the defense to hold teams under 10 goals. According to laxpower.com, since the 2005 season, when Caldwell allows 10 or fewer goals, the Lady Chiefs are an amazing 85-8, including 57-1 since the 2008 season, head coach Angela Giampino-Vasi’s first season at the helm.
The girls will embark on a stretch of three consecutive home games against teams which are all above .500.
After improving to 10-0 with blowout wins over Glen Ridge on Wednesday, April 17, and Paterson Kennedy on Thursday, April 18, the Chiefs have dropped back-to-back games.
Monday’s loss to Millburn, one of the county’s top teams, wasn’t the biggest surprise but Friday’s 7-6 divisional loss to Columbia where the Cougars rallied for three in the bottom of the seventh was the shocker.
Caldwell has gotten off to such a good start the loss to Columbia likely won’t mean much in a Liberty Division which appears to be the Chiefs’ to lose.
In the 14-2 win over Glen Ridge, John Gallagher led the way with three RBIs, while John Christopher scored four runs, Sonny Puzzo scored three and both Mark Mattheiss and Chris Dalla Riva drove in a pair. Jack Docteroff got the win.
Gallagher and Mattheiss also picked up a pair of runs and one RBI on Thursday against Paterson Kennedy. Zach Endersby earned the five inning win.
Boys Lacrosse (6-3)
Caldwell has reeled off three consecutive victories and is beginning to look like the powerhouse team many thought it would be. This past week, the Chiefs defeated Morristown, 5-2, and then backed it up with a 9-6 win over Montville.
Joe Vogt combined for 25 saves in both wins, while both Billy Pierce and Timothy DiVincenzo notched two goals and an assist. With the county tournament and state tournaments looming in the coming weeks, it may be a bit too early to start looking to see how the end of the season shakes out, but things look good for the Chiefs who close with four of their final five games at home, and four of the final six against teams with records below .500.