BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - New Providence senior Jillian Balog notched a goal with 27.9 seconds left on the clock to claim the 13-12 girls lacrosse victory over Gov. Livingston in a tough showdown between two long-time rivals.
The Pioneers came into the game with a 4-9 record, losing multiple games by one point. We wanted to play our best without any regrets said Balog.
"We definitely went up and down," said New Providence Coach Jennifer Henry. "These guys have been so close a lot this season. This has been a rivalry that they really wanted to pull out."
The Lady Highlanders raced out to an early 8-3 first half lead dominated by junior center Julia Martin winning the draws to control the offense and scored four game goals with one assist.
The teams traded goals early in the second half with New Providence working to narrow the lead.
Yellow cards thrown at the Lady Highlanders' key scorers [Lindsay Gerrato, Erica Frezza and Stephanie Dowling] for dangerous follow-through claimed critical scores from their tally.
Sophomore Alice Caballero led a charge down the field driving to the goal to connect with Martin for a score -- regaining the offensive momentum for the Lady Highlanders. They would continue the offensive pressure, passing patiently trying to find their way through New Providence's tight defense. Georgia Pardales scored from a free possession to advance the lead, 11-7.
New Providence received possession from another penalty called on Lindsay Gerrato for dangerous follow-through. Rachel Del Duca and Claire Eberle quickly scored to bring New Providence within two.
Senior Erica Frezza retaliated from a repossessed ground ball that was brought down the field by Maddie Gerrato to score her fifth goal of the battle to cushion a 12-9 lead.
The calls against the Lady Highlanders made it hard to match New Providence's second-half outburst. A late penalty for too many players on the field gave New Providence a two-man advantage to finish the game.
"It is out of our control, those situations [referee calls]. The girls did an awesome job. We were down a girl for 12 minutes and two girls for the end of the game. That says a lot about the heart, toughness and determination of us," said Testa.
The Pioneers successfully chipped away at the Highlanders' lead with a goal by Nicole Dillon to tie the game with 2:23 remaining and Balog scored the winning goal to claim victory of this tight battle.
"We wanted to beat GL being such a rival game. I'm so proud of our whole team, they did great," said Balog who scored five goals with one assist in the victory.
What a difference a year can make -- Gov. Livingston lost 23-6 in their last meeting. "They have come so far compared to last year. For this to be as competitive of a game says a lot about how hard they worked. I am proud of them," said Testa.
New Providence will visit third seed Westfield in the quarterfinal round of the UCT on Saturday, May 3.