BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - In the season finale for both teams, the Governor Livingston Highlanders girls’ lacrosse team suffered a heartbreaking 13-12 overtime loss to the rival New Providence Pioneers. With the loss, Governor Livingston closes the season at 12-6 while the Pioneers finish 10-7 after the win.
Not surprisingly, the outstanding duo of senior Julia Martin and sophomore Lindsay Gerrato paced the Highlanders with five and three goals, respectively.
Thursday’s game was one of the more entertaining of this long-standing rivalry between the two teams. The game featured four lead changes as neither team led by more than four. Governor Livingston head coach Aileen Musynske was pleased with her team’s effort. Musynyke admitted it was her team’s best performance of the season which couldn’t have come at a better time.
“This was our best game all year,” Musynyke said. “The girls left everything out on that field for the entire 50 minutes and the six-minute overtime portion. And their performance was even more impressive considering we were down two girls. To lose by just one being two girls down is a testament to the heart of those girls.”
The Highlanders’ heart proved to be a blessing and a curse in Thursday’s game. In a physical and rather chippy game that featured several yellow cards, Governor Livingston received five of those yellow cards. Martin and junior Stephanie Dowling received two yellow cards apiece which contributed to both missing key points of the game. Unfortunately for Governor Livingston, two of the team’s best players were the two girls Musynyke referenced.
Musynyke didn’t get down on her players for letting their emotions get the best of them momentarily. Players from both teams were guilty of such and who could blame them in a game of this magnitude. “Both sides were very excited for this game,” Musynyke said. “I know they were excited to be playing us for their final regular season game, and vice-versa. We were amped and pumped up and wanted this game really bad.”
Minus the physicality and emotions that went into Thursday’s match, the game itself also lived up to the billing After the Highlanders took a 2-1 lead in the game’s early portions, the Pioneers went on a 5-2 run before the Highlanders pulled to within one with just over two minutes to play. The Pioneers quelled any Governor Livingston hopes of carrying the momentum into half time by scring two goals inless than a minute.
Instead of going into the half down one, Governor Livingston trailed by three. The Pioneers carried their end-of-half momentum into the scond half with a goal less than a minute into the half that pushed their lead to 9-5. With the game in danger of getting away, Martin and Gerrato raised their level of play and their teammates fed off them not only offensively but defensively as well.
After Martin and Gerrato both scored goals in Governor Livingston’s mini 2-0 run, to pull back within two, New Providence converted again to go back up three. The goal with just under 17 minutes remaining proved to be the Pioneers’ last for a long while. The Highlanders scored four straight goals to put them back ahead by one with 1:27 remaining. Three of the four goals came from Martin and the other came from Gerrato.
“Never giving up is something we worked on all season,” Musynyke said. “Lindsay, through her heart and hustle, never gave up. And Julia also played very well tonight. I couldn’t be more proud of both of them and the team as a whole.”
It was indeed a team effort that brought the Highlanders back from the four-point deficit. Holding a team to zero goals over a fifteen-minute stretch is no walk in the park. And to turn up the pressure defensively at the ‘flick of a switch” after falling behind by four made the defensive stand even more impressive. Governor Livingston Goalie Elizabeth Moribeto deserves her fair share of credit for the comeback as well. The sophomore rejected several shots during New Providence’s fifteen-minute scoring drought.
With each Moribeto rejection, her teammates gained more confidence and before you knew it, were up by one during the game’s waning moments.
Governor Livingston’s magical run would unfortunately come to an end with 53 second remaining when the Pioneers tied the game at 11 all.
Gerrato seemed poised to give Governor Livingston a late lead with 30 seconds remaining, but her shot was rejected. After Gerrato’s shot, the Pioneers quickly got the ball downfield but were unable to score as time expired.
The Pioneers did convert in overtime with two goals in a 48-second span that put them back ahead by two.
Like they did all game, the Highlanders fought back and drew back within one on junior Alice Caballero’s goal with just over a minute left in overtime. Caballero’s goal would be Governor Livingston’s last as New Providence held on for the win. Gerrato had two chances to tie the game as overtime wound down but luck wouldn’t have it. Her first shot, with 11 seconds remaining, sailed over the goalpost. With her team still having possession of the ball, Gerrato second shot hit the goalpost as time expired.
While a tough ending for her team, Musynyke was able to find solace in her team’s steady growth over the course of the season.
“Seeing our growth throughout the season was a wonderful thing,” Musynyke said. “ From where we were in the preseason to where we are now is ‘night and day’. Every day we left everything out on that field. I’m very happy with where our program is right now.”