CHATHAM, NJ - The Lady Cougars displayed great poise, excellent passing and abundant patience in working their offense for a shot that would break the tie in the closing minutes of regulation.
Chatham possessed the ball on the offensive end for more than four minutes before Alex Frenzel's 8-meter chance was blocked by Oak Knoll goalie Jackie McCall in the final seconds of the second half.
Annabelle Zebrowski made the case for quicker, more decisive action when she scored just 14 seconds into overtime to give Oak Knoll a 9-8 girls lacrosse victory on Tuesday at Oak Knoll Chatham Fields. It marked the third straight year the Oak Knoll-Chatham matchup was decided in overtime.
Schuyler Bixby had fired in a high shot off a feed from Frenzel to pull Chatham even at 8-8 with 5:23 left in the second half. After regaining possession, Chatham (5-3) worked its offense in search of the winning goal.
"We really want to be more patient on attack because when we are we really work for our opportunities and that's when we're most successful," Chatham senior Bridget Ballard said. "Oak Knoll played amazing defense. We were smart, we didn't force anything, but their slides were there and that made it hard for us. Then we realized how much time was left and then we kind of just forced it.
"There's never a problem with holding it for the last shot. That's what we want to do. We did a good job possessing it. We need to work on working together more to create opportunities."
Ballard, who ended with four assists, anticipated a down-to-the wire game with the Royals since she played a pivotal role in the two previous OT games.
Two years ago as a sophomore, Ballard netted her fourth goal of the game to give Chatham a 7-6 victory with 14 seconds left in overtime. Last year, when Oak Knoll went on to win the Tournament of Champions, the Royals topped Chatham, 11-10, in overtime.
"They lost one of their best players (Ali Baiocco, knee injury), but they're still just as good without her," Ballard said. "We've been into overtime with them for the past three years. We won my sophomore year. We lost to them last year in double overtime and then this year. It's always a good game and we're hoping to see them again if we make it to T of Cs."
Beth Kuyk and Bixby netted the first two goals for Chatham before Oak Knolls (5-2) built a 4-2 advantage. That's when Abby Morgan and Ballard led a four-goal charge by the Lady Cougars.
Morgan ignited the burst by cutting from behind the net to finish a pinpoint pass from Ballard. Just 29 seconds later, Ballard backpedaled before firing a long pass that connected with Morgan cutting over the middle. The junior finished to make it a 4-4 game.
Emily Wingate connected off her 8-meter chance to give Chatham a 5-4 edge before Morgan struck again. Bixby scooped up a ground ball and quickly passed it forward to Morgan, who netted he third goal for a 6-4 lead with 3:12 left in the half.
In the second half, Kuyk's second goal made it 7-7 before Bixby's goal knotted it at 8-8.
"Obviously we wanted to have a shot at the end of regulation and not have it going into overtime," Chatham coach Hilary Renna said. "We did a good job of possessing the ball and not turning it over, but we just didn't execute the play. We weren't able to get a shot off and that brought momentum down a little bit going into overtime."
Gislina Saul made seven saves in goal in the first half for Chatham before Kat Friday took over in the second half and made three saves.
"I think that both our goalies came up with huge saves throughout the entire game," Renna said. "When they weren't in, they were the loudest people on the sideline, pumping everyone up and keeping everyone mentally focused for the entire game. They deserve a lot of credit for that."
Alex Frenzel's 8-meter shot is blocked by Oak Knoll goalie Jackie McCall with about 10 seconds left in regulation