On Thursday, O'Connor, heeding the advice given to her by assistant coach Lori Pfarrer during a second-half timeout, changed her approach, passing around a defender and going to the ball.
Sure enough, O'Connor connected and in impressive fashion, scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal on a powerful shot from the top of the circle with 7:35 left, snapping a deadlock and lifting the Wildcats to a 3-2 victory over Morristown-Beard in NJAC-Liberty Division field hockey action on Thursday.
"'It works! It works!,'" O'Connor said to herself after the goal that followed a breakaway that began at the 35-yard line.
O'Connor's shot on goal - hard hit and well placed - oozed her newly-found confidence. It was her second score of the game and fifth of the season for Whippany Park (2-2).
"I wasn't looking up. I kept dribbling into defenders," O'Connor said. "Coach Pfarrer told me if I passed around the girl and ran to the ball, I'd get there faster than she would. I haven't used that to score before. I only used it to dodge people."
Wildcats coach Nicole Yannotta was thrilled that O'Connor was willing to try what Pfarrer suggested.
"Cassie finally got it," Yannotta said. "We wanted her to just beat her. She has the speed and stick skills to do it."
Another aspect of the win that was pleasing? The fact that Whippany Park was able to come back after falling behind 1-0 in the first half. Freshman midfielder Jamie Rehus had the equalizer, knocking in the first goal of her career as the opening half ended.
The first goal by O'Connor, assisted by Sam Mellea, came 1:57 after the break and put the Wildcats up, 2-1. The Crimson (2-2) tied it on Gabby Hyman's goal six minutes later.
In its last two games, both losses, the Wildcats simply weren't sharp and were outscored a combined 10-1 by Boonton and Mountain Lakes.
"We were so flat on Tuesday against Mountain Lakes," Yannotta said. "We've started working well as a team. We're passing well. Everything we've been working toward came together today. I felt like we dominated in the first half. It was good to see that type of drive and hustle."
Morristown-Beard got on the scoreboard first, getting a goal from senior left wing Lizzy Pellicane, a three-year starter, 3:41 before halftime. Rehus' goal did not sit well with Crimson coach Kim Babbitt, who felt the score came after time had expired. Babbitt didn't want to dwell on it but did say it was "a frustrating situation."
The Crimson have had plenty of offensive punch this season, accumulating 12 goals in four games.
"I saw a lot of good stuff today," Babbitt said. "We had some great passing and our work in the circle was good. We struggled in transition. Whippany Park played aggressively. Whippany Park is the best I've ever seen them. Being aggressive is their No. 1 attribute. They played for a full 60 minutes."
Pellicane turned in a strong effort, moving the ball and setting up Hyman's goal. Senior center back YinYin Petersen distributed the ball and was a stalwart on defense.
"YinYin is cool under pressure. She's a fighter," Babbitt said.
The Wildcats had several standouts as well. Senior Brianna Cetrulo excelled at center halfback, pushing up on offense. Shannyn Wilson turned back 10 shots on goal for Whippany Park. Elaina Aquila made seven saves for Morristown-Beard.
"To come out on top today is great," O'Connor said. "This was definitely one of our better wins."