Udland Wins Big Race, Brosnan Saves Miller Soccer
Blake Udland won the sectional cross country race. Courtney Brosnan was a wall in net in the girls soccer playoff win.
Blake Udland, Cross Country
It's hard to feel happier for anyone than Udland right now, who won the sectional championship on Saturday. His brothers are two of the best cross country runners in Millburn history, and the youngest Udland was injured last season during sections and earlier this season. There's a very deep field at the Group 3 championships and of course at the Tournament of Champions, so Udland picked the right week to win his first major race.
Courtney Brosnan, Girls Soccer
It has been said that one of the most difficult things to do in sports is to defend a penalty kick. Millburn's freshman keeper Courtney Brosnan made it look easy on Friday in Mendham for the second round of the playoffs. Brosnan saved four penalty shots and had 11 saves overall in Millburn's playoff win.
After beginning the week with three playoff teams, we are now down to one with the girls soccer team still alive and heading to the state sectional semifinals.
The girls will have to hope they have some of last year' s magic left in them as they hope to upset the top seed on the road for a second consecutive season. Millburn is in search of its first sectional championship since 1990 and have a quality team and have been tested against quality opponents. Scotch Plains hasn't lost a game in over a month and has not allowed more than one goal in a game this season. They will be very tough.
The boys soccer team lost a tough game in Mendham on Thursday. Up by a goal with less than 20 minutes left, most teams are expecting to win the game. But Mendham kept forcing the action and got about three free kick opportunities in a five minute span before connecting with the game tying one. It was just a matter of time. The second goal, off of a corner kick, was just a great kick, but it's tough to lose off of two set piece goals, especially when Millburn left a goal on the table missing a penalty kick to go up 2-0. All in all though, I'm not sure this shouldn't be considered at least a moderate success for the boys in what was supposed to be a down year.
You knew it was going to be tough for the Millers to go into Hopewell Valley and get a win in the second round. Hopewell had lost just once all season while Millburn hovered around the .500 mark all fall. The Millers have a young core of players and should be good next season. But it seems that in sports like tennis and field hockey it's harder to break into the upper echelon. It seems all the same teams are always good. I'm not sure it will be possible for the locals to break into that group next season.
Most Important Games next Week
1. Girls soccer at Scotch Plains, Tuesday—The Millers came into this season as contenders to win a state sectional championship. They'll have a uphill battle on Tuesday, but if they can play good defense they'll have a chance.
2. Millburn Cross Country at Group 3 Championships, Saturday—It will take a Herculean effort for the boys or the girls teams to get out of the groups and into the Meet of Champions. But both teams have very young cores. Udland, who will likely advance, is only a junior. The boys had two freshman place in the top 15 in the section. The girls, who are losing just one senior, had all seven starters place in the top 25. They should all just let it loose and go for broke in what could likely be their last race of the season.