MADISON, NJ - It was only last season's state playoffs where the Madison girls lacrosse team lost to Caldwell.
The Lady Dodgers lost 11-10 in overtime in the first round of the Group 1 state tournament last season.
While the stakes weren't as high on Thursday in a regular season game at Madison, it still turned out to be a taste of last season that the Lady Dodgers did not want to taste again.
But unfortunately for Madison, it happened again.
With Madison leading for most of the game, Caldwell's Ijeoma Ikpe fired a shot past Madison junior goalie Melissa Blant with six seconds left in regulation as the Dodgers dropped a 10-9 decision. The loss dropped Madison to 2-3 on the season.
Madison held the lead for most of the game until those six seconds and dominated the ball possession while also outshooting Caldwell, 27-19.
But in the end the Dodgers could not contain Ikpe, who had five goals in the game.
The turning point might have come at the start of the second half where one of Madison’s top players, Ari Goret, injured her left leg on the face-off.
Goret would not return and not only took away one of the Dodgers top weapons, but also one of their top face-off players. "It changed the dynamics and we tried to adjust accordingly," said Madison head coach Amanda Counts.
While Goret was out Madison did control the play in the Caldwell end, they just could not get the ball past Chiefs goalie Molly McNish. "We just didn't finish and didn't capitalize on our speed," said Counts. "Also, our shot selection could have been better."
Despite Blant letting in the winning goal, Counts could not have been happier with her play after their starting goalie suffered a concussion before the start of the season. "I don't know where we would be without Melissa," said Counts. "She really stepped up for us."
Goret and Ali Jago led the Madison scoring with two goals each while the Lady Dodgers received a goal each from Brynn Taylor, Laney Rutland, Amelia Murcott, Michelle Montagna and Jill Lennon. "That's what I like about our team," said Counts. "We don't have that one goal scorer. We are balanced and defenses can't stop just one scorer."
In the first half Madison built a 6-3 lead with the first of two goals from Goret with a little more than 15 minutes left in the half.
But Caldwell would score a pair of goals to cut the Dodgers lead to 6-5 for only to have Goret come back to hit the back of the net with 90 seconds remaining in the first half and take a 7-5 halftime lead.
After Goret went down with the injury, it didn’t seem to have an effect right away as Rutland scored a little more than 30 seconds into the second half to give the Lady Dodgers an 8-5 lead.
And it appeared that Madison was going to win after Lennon scored in a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the game and gave the Dodgers another three goal lead, making the score 9-6.
But for the last 10 minutes of the game the scoring sheet would be reserved for the Chiefs in scoring the final four goals of the game.
Madison will look to get back on the winning side of the ledger on Saturday in hosting Scotch Plains-Fanwood and traveling to Morristown-Beard on Monday.