CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham was definitely feeling the heat on a very hot day and a stubborn Ramapo team was making the Cougars sweat it out into a second overtime period.
That was the perfect time to add some "Ice" to the situation.
Nate Carson, also known as "Ice" to his teammates, made it a very cool ending for Chatham when he fired a shot from outside that connected 44 seconds into the second overtime, lifting Chatham to 6-5 victory and the NJSIAA North Jersey, Group 2 state championship on Saturday at Cougar Field.
"It was a screen play from behind and it drew the guy who was covering me," Carson said. "I found myself in open space and decided to rip it and it went in. It was really difficult to play against them. They were packed in real tight and it was hard to get the ball inside. The game was on the line and and I decided to let it rip."
Chatham (18-6) will meet Manasquan (19-4) on Wednesday to decide the Group 2 state boys lacrosse championship.
"I've never played in a group final so this will be my first experience and I'm really excited," Carson said.
It was the only goal scored by Carson on just his second attempt in the game. Last month, Carson's goal in overtime against Medfield of Massachusetts had won the game for the Cougars. It was his only goal in that game, too.
"He's our overtime guy," Chatham coach Tony Calandra said. "He had the goal against Medfield on a similar type of play.
"You never want to play in this type of heat, but, overall, it didn't turn out too bad. We wanted to go back to one of our early sets, get a dodger out of it and make a play."
The goal by Carson gave Chatham a 13-1 record at Cougar Field this season and the Cougars were feeling at home early in this one. Austin Pierce scored just 59 seconds into the action on pass from behind by Mac Bredahl (1 goal, three assists).
Later in the period, Pierce cut to the goal again and scored on a feed from behind by Matt Coleman to make it 2-0. But Ramapo (13-6) and its goalie, Johnny Caponi, made it a lot tougher to score from that point on, packing its defense inside to clog up the middle.
The Raiders scored two goals to tie the game and then got an unassisted goal from Jack Griffin to take a 3-2 edge into the second period.
Bredahl, Chatham's leading point producer, admitted after the game that he was feeling under the weather and running a fever.
"I tried to keep it a secret as long as I could," Bredahl said. "I don't know if anyone could tell by the way I was playing or not."
No one could tell in the second quarter when Bredahl came from behind and hit a falling shot with 7.4 seconds left to give Chatham a 3-3 tie heading into the break.
"It was really hot," Pierce said. "We usually don't go in (the locker room) at half. We had the fans on, a little pumped-up speech and we came out and won the game. We wanted to get looks inside and when we got them we buried them. We knew someone had to step up in overtime and Nate did."
Ramapo got goals from Blake Eischen and then Griffin to grab a 5-3 lead with 5:29 showing in the third quarter. But the Chatham defense ignited a fast break that Pierce finished off a pass from Bredahl. Coleman then scored on a spin move and shot after receiving a pass from Bredahl to make it 5-5 with 1:29 left in the third.
Before the start of the fourth quarter, Chatham was charged with a 3-minute penalty for having an illegal stick, giving Ramapo a huge man-up opportunity. But Nestler (11 saves) came up with a big stop and Chatham cleared the ball and killed the penalty.
Nestler made another big save with under two minutes left in regulation to keep it a tie game and force the first 4-minute overtime.
"Anytime you go into overtime it's nerve-racking, especially if you're the goalie," Nestler said. "It's either you or the other goalie that's going to go down. I have to give it to the other goalie (Johnny Caponi), he really played out of his mind and kept his team in it.
"I don't know if I faced any shots (in the overtimes), my defense held tough, forced some turnovers and our offense finished the second one. It's definitely nerve racking."
Mac Bredahl scores unassisted for Chatham with this shot while falling
Austin Pierce scores the second of his three goals off a pass from Matt Coleman