The way Alex Young has been scoring goals, it might be best for the Minutemen to have the soccer ball stay on her feet for awhile. The sophomore forward has scored five goals in three games, including two goals on Wednesday in Mendham's 2-0 victory over rival West Morris.
Mendham goalkeeper Faith Sugerman made eight saves, including a penalty kick save in the final minutes, to lift the Minutemen to 3-0 on the season. West Morris drops to 1-2. The graduation losses of top scorer Nicole Graziano and goalkeeper Robin Chernow might have been some cause for concern for Mendham going into the season but those two key positions seem to be well in hand with Young and Sugerman's recent performances.
Young, who scored a lot of goals on the jayvee team last year, showed tremendous composure on both her scores and didn't act like a sophomore playing in her third varsity game.
"Last year, I played jayvee and I scored in every game,'' Young said. "That's just what I want to do. I always focus on where I can put the ball. I look where the goalie is and try and place it to a corner.''
Lahey has been impressed with the way the young player is making the proper adjustments needed to compete against the physical opponents in the National Division of the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference.
"It's amazing for a young kid playing her first year on varsity,'' Lahey said. "She has that knack to know just how to finish. There are goal scorers that just know how to put the ball in the net and she's one of those. No matter what happens she finds a way. She looks up and slides the ball into the corner. She has that knack, whatever that is.''
Her first goal came in the 43rd minute off an Emily Saliterman direct kick near midfield. The ball bounced through a crowd of players and Young calmly collected it, gave it a touch and tucked it into the left corner of the net.
The second goal came about 20 minutes later. She took possession near the midfield, took on and dribbled the ball past West Morris defenders on two separate occasions and showed her coach that she had the best chance at scoring by putting the ball into the left corner once again.
"Alex has one of the best touches on the team,'' Mendham teammate Carley Horan said. "In those situations, she's always good. She can bring it down and put it right in.''
It was all the scoring Mendham needed because Sugerman had a fine game, too. Her eight saves included a few solid ones when the Wolfpack increased their second-half intensity. It was the third consecutive shutout for the Minutemen. They have outscored their opponents 7-0 this season.
"She's not going to be a secret for long,'' Lahey said. "Unfortunately for her, she sat behind a kid that was all-county for three years. I think she's going to be one of the top keepers in the county. I think she's going to be very important for us. That save on the penalty kick was great. She kept us up by two. We still had that cushion. I think people are going to be surprised at how good she is.''
When a Mendham defender was whistled for a hand ball in the last 10 minutes of the contest, Sugerman stood tall. She smothered Megan Monaco's penalty-kick effort with a dive to her left to secure the shutout.
"It's awesome for Faith,'' Horan said. "She's been looking forward to this opportunity for the last three years. She had to split time her sophomore and junior years and she just stayed with it. She spent her entire summer playing soccer. She's really pumped. She's a huge presence and we are happy to have her.''
It's a long season but the 3-0 start is a definite confidence builder for a team that is placing themselves among the favorites in a competitive division. And beating West Morris, their fervent rivals, wasn't bad either.
"It never gets old,'' Horan said.