MONTGOMERY: Cougars back in finals

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
   The Montgomery High field hockey team had chance after chance to score in the first 20 minutes of Friday’s North Jersey, Section 2 Group IV semifinal against West Windsor-Plainsboro North.
   But WW-P North goalkeeper Christina Hayduchok continually turned away the Cougars, who finally broke through when Kate Hackett scored with just under nine minutes to play in the first half.
   ”I knew eventually we would come through,” said Montgomery senior Philly Lumsden, who helped the Cougars pull away for a 4-1 win. “We had a lot of opportunities. I give a lot of credit to their goalie. She was a very good goalie. But I knew our forwards were just ready to punch in a goal the whole time. I knew it was eventually going to happen.”
   Montgomery had 14 corners in the opening half and 27 in the game, but had trouble getting the ball past Hayduchok. After Hackett gave the Cougars the lead, North responded quickly and scored less than two minutes later when Leigh Colatta scored off an assist from Olivia Harpel.
   The Cougars struck quickly in the second half as Allison Mannheimer scored the first of her two goals less than two minutes into the period. Caoimhe Tyndall and Mannheimer would each add goals later in the half as the Cougars advanced to the sectional finals.
   Montgomery, which improved to 12-9-1 with the win, will play at top-seeded Hunterdon Central today at 5:15 p.m. Montgomery is making its third straight appearance in the sectional final. Two years ago, the Cougars lost to Hunterdon Central in the final.
   ”I am so excited,” said Lumsden, who will be playing at Gettysburg College next year. “We have been preparing all season and working our way to getting better and better. Hopefully we can pull out a win in the finals. We started off a little shaky in the beginning of the year. Then we made a few field changes and now I think we have it all set up. I feel like we still had the potential to pull together and do it if we all work as one unit and play well together as a team.”
   In the win over North, the Cougars finished with a 24-5 advantage in shots on goal. But with Hayduchok’s play in goal, it was tough to score most of the afternoon.
   ”They are a tough team to get by,” Montgomery coach Tiffany Trockenbrod said. “We had been warned going into the game that their goalie was pretty good and I thought she did a really nice job today.”
   With so many opportunities to score, Trockenbrod was confident eventually her team would come through with a goal or two.
   ”That is what I was hoping,” Trockenbrod said. “But at the same time I was hoping we weren’t going to pressure them and then a fluke was going to happen down the other end. I kept telling them to keep chipping away and it will come.”
   The Cougars have now shaken off an up and down start to find themselves playing for a sectional title for the third straight year. A strong group of seniors have helped the team stay together and peak at the right time.
   ”We had some injuries and illness and some other unfortunate events that held us back in the beginning,” Trockenbrod said. “But we’re coming together now. There is a group of eight seniors and we are really going to miss then next year. They do everything for us out on the field.”