CRANFORD - Sophia McMullan, the starting goalie on the Cranford High School varsity field hockey team since her sophomore year, recorded her 500th career save on Monday against Columbia.
Teammates on the sideline stood anxiously with a congratulatory poster as the opening whistle blew. McMullan entered the game just one save away from the milestone, and it took just over two minutes before she officially became a member of the 500 club.
Typically as milestones are reached in high school, the game is paused momentarily for the recipient and teammates to celebrate, but in this case, McMullan was under heavy fire from the Columbia offense, and went on to save two more shots before the celebrating could begin.
"We were honestly expecting it in our last game on Saturday," said Cranford head coach Samantha Berk. "It was exciting and a really good moment for her. She's really won games for us in the past and she's made some really crucial saves. She know's she has been our rock."
Though the Cougars had their celebration early, in the end it was heartbreak as Columbia took the 4-3 comeback victory.
Cranford led 3-2 at halftime and never trailed in the first-half, but the offense went silent in the final 30 minutes as Cloey Strupp tied the game for Columbia with 3:06 remaining before Peyton Kemp nailed what was the game-winner just 37 seconds later.
"(Columbia) does a lot of big lofty hits forward, and we didn't defend well against it," said Berk. "It just wasn't our best game in general."
Lillian Collyer and Leah Filimonczuk gave Cranford a 1-0 and 2-1 lead, respectively, but for each of their goals, Annie Pasternak answered with one of her own for Columbia. Brooke Bishop, who assisted Collyer's goal, drilled Cranford's third goal with just under eight minutes left in the half.
The Cougars will next travel to Clark to take on Johnson at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday.