CHATHAM, NJ - Battling the unseasonable warmth and a relentless defense, the Chatham Cougars were unable to defeat Mendham High in women’s soccer on Saturday and instead tied Mendham 1-1. The two women's soccer teams played on Haas Field in a game that would see stellar defense, excellent goalkeeping, and two overtimes.
Chatham's coach, Tracey Blanchard, said that she could not have asked any more of her players following the 100 minute marathon.
The game got off to a slow start. The two opponents were feeling each out early. The first 10 minutes of the game passed without much action.
After a ball was kicked out of bounds by Mendham, the game started to get physical. There was a lot of pushing and shoving between the two sides, and the field was often littered with white and blue jersey clad players.
Midway through the first half, Mendham opened the scoring. The scoring play resembled a basketball screen. A Mendham player blocked a Cougar defender which left the Mendham ball carrier, Robin Chernow, with only the keeper to beat.
Morgan Maltby, Chatham's keeper for the match, played an excellent game, but was unsuccessful on this occasion and Mendham went up 1-0.
Maltby finished the game with 13 saves. Of the 13, there was a spectacular leaping catch on a shot that was destined to reach the back of the net. More impressive however was a diving save near the end of regulation that kept the score tied.
The Chatham players were visibly upset after allowing the goal, but they continued to play hard.
The opposing coach could be heard yelling to his players that they were watching the ball while Chatham was running. He reminded his team that running is an essential part of winning a soccer game.
The game would go into halftime with Mendham holding on to its 1-0 lead.
The second 40 minute period began much the way the first one ended. It was a physical game where both teams were beating each other up.
After about 15 minutes, Chatham would tie the game. Lauren Maiorano would pass the ball to Maggie Higgins who would find the back of the net.
Following the goal, Chatham didn't get another opportunity to score until there were only four minutes left in regulation.
Chatham had the ball in front of Mendham's goal. The ball came rolling out of the scrum of players and was moving towards the goal. The ball rolled past the keeper and-at first-appeared to be in the net for the go-ahead goal. The fifty people on hand went started to cheer until it became apparent that there was no goal.
With thirty seconds left in regulation, Maltby made a spectacular diving save to force overtime.
During the first 10 minute overtime period, Chatham spent so much time in front of Mendham's net that they should have been charged rent. They dominated the period, but they were unable to score.
By the time the second overtime period rolled around, the 85 degree temperature-exacerbated by Haas Field's artificial turf-had taken its toll.
Both teams were clearly exhausted, and they never came close to scoring a goal in the second overtime period.
The tie puts Chatham's record at 2-2-1. The Cougars play again on Tuesday evening against rival Madison High.