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An avalanche of fouls sees Montgomery get past Lawrence for its eighth win of the season

With its high-powered offense once again leading the way, Montgomery picked up its eighth win in nine games on Saturday when it easily defeated visiting Lawrence 17-7 in Skillman.

Although they started scoring from the opening minute of the game, it took the Cougars most of the first quarter to finally get the offense fully going. Once they did that, it was off to the races as Montgomery scored twelve consecutive goals to break the game wide open and lead to victory.

Montgomery scored twice before the game was even two minutes old, when Sophia Soron found the net off a pass from Lexi Lopez just 46 seconds into the game. A minute later, Elliana Pizzulli grabbed a rebound from the goalkeeper and fired a shot into the net to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.

Lawrence could hold out for a while as the two teams traded goals. After the first two goals, the Cards answered when Alexis Audet took a pass from Kendall Jodoin from behind the net to score and make it 2-1.

Montgomery would reply to a goal from Claire Long, assisted by Pizzulli. But Lawrence’s Charley Korsos fired an eight-yard shot to pull the Cards back to within one at 3-2. Pizzulli would hit Long for another score before Lawrence’s Caelyn LaFlamme also hit an eight-yarder to cut Montgomery’s lead to 4-3.

While Lawrence held firm in the scoring war, the Cards lost the battle for possession. Montgomery won 10 of the first 12 draws and finished the first half with 14 of 18. Lawrence showed he could score when he had the ball, but he didn’t have possession often enough.

Montgomery coach Joe Riccardi was asked if his team puts ball possession as a high priority.

“It has become one,” he said. “In the past we have tried to run too fast a pace and we got a little out of control. We start making bad feeds, bad perimeter passes and we drop the ball. We were just losing possession. This year we really focused on keeping possession of the ball as the most important thing.

“If we execute our stated offense, we are successful. Even though we have players who get those fast break opportunities every now and then, we don’t want to push them. We like to be able to relax and play the game at our leisure. It is good because it teaches them to understand how to control the game and how to determine the pace of play.”

The pace the rest of the way was all Montgomery’s. Just as Lawrence got within a goal at 4-3, the Cougars put their offense into high gear as Pizzulli, on an assist from Lexi Lopez, Gabby Lopez, on an assist from Sofia Jaworovich, and Lexi Lopez, also assisted by Jaworovich. , all scored goals in the final stretch of the opening period (1:37), giving Montgomery a 7-3 lead at halftime.

“(We were) trying to figure out where our looks against them would come from,” Riccardi said of his team’s gradual gains. “(We were) figuring out what we were going to do today, what we wanted the theme of the offense to be, because we gave the girls a lot of leeway on the offense. We name some things, but often we think that some of our best things come organically with them, rather than forcing them to do certain things all the time.

“Sometimes they just have to find a step. It took some time today, but once we found it, we hit that sweet spot and it rolled.”

The Cougars would continue the scoring drive in the second quarter, taking a 10-3 lead on goals from Lexi Lopez, off assists from Gabby Lopez, Jaworovich and Long. Then Montgomery would bring a player up after a Lawrence penalty and take full advantage, as Pizzulli scored twice and Gabby Lopez once, to take a 16–3 lead.

Montgomery would complete his 12-goal streak in the third quarter after two goals from Long and one from Pizzulli. Before the Cards’ Korsos could break the streak with her unassisted score with 4:01 left in the third period, the Cougars had jumped out to a 16-3 lead.

By the end of the match, Long had finished with six goals, while Pizzulli proved to be almost as dangerous a shooter with five. But most noticeably, Montgomery’s offense was a whirlwind of assists. Lexi Lopez finished the game by assisting on four goals, Jaworovich on three and Pizzulli on two.

“We’re definitely trying to move the ball really quickly,” Long said of the way her team played on the offensive side of the court. “That way you move your defenders and you get a lot of open options, because, you know, second cuts and all that. That’s actually what we’re looking at. We are looking for more supported goals than your own. If you have those options, that’s great, but a lot of it is supported, which I really like as a team, because it’s more teamwork and team unity, rather than individuality.”

Montgomery might have scored even more if it weren’t for Lawrence goalkeeper Sophia Uyaguari-Corado. She has racked up more saves than any goalkeeper in the region so far this season and it was easy to see why. She made one difficult save after another and blocked a total of thirteen shots by the end of the match. Montgomery coach Riccardi was full of praise after the game.

“Their goalkeeper was great today,” he said. “She had an absolute all-star day today.”

Lawrence would go on a three-goal run of their own in the final quarter as Korsos, Audet and Alexis Corigliano scored to close the gap to 17-7.

“We lost some of our players to injury, so we’re trying to figure out what fits together well,” Lawrence coach Sarah Berardi said after the loss. “In attack we just have to work the ball a little faster. But for the most part, we were able to score when we got it there.

“Our big thing is working together as a unit. We were positive throughout the match, we worked hard and never gave up. We played until the last second and I can’t complain about that. My team as a whole does a great job even when we are down. When we were ten down they were still playing as hard as they could. So that’s all I can really ask for.”

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Michael Holcombe can be reached at [email protected]