MILLBURN, NJ - Madison’s leading scorer in regular season and state tournament play Katherine Zimmerman scored a goal to knot things up at one apiece for the Lady Dodgers at the 17:23 mark of the second half, but the team surrendered two more Ramsey goals after that en route to a 3-1 loss in the semi-final round of the NJSIAA North 2 tournament on Tuesday night at Millburn High School.
After a first half played very defensively by Madison, the game began to open up a bit as the two teams combined for four goals in the final 40 minutes of play. Unfortunately for Madison they only scored one of them as they just could not seem to handle the offensive surges of Ramsey.
“We just came up a little bit short tonight. You got to tip your hats to Ramsey. They’re a good side; probably the best side we faced all season,” Madison Head Coach Kevin Lynott said. “They just kind of wore us down. I think the pressure just tolled in the end."
The defense of Madison avoided catastrophe less than a minute into the second half when Ramsey had a golden opportunity to come away with the game’s first goal. Some confusion within the box brought goalkeeper Meg Calcaterra out of her net, but Ramsey’s Addie Jensen missed the open net when she hit left post. Lexi Knief gathered the rebound and fired a hard shot that was stopped nicely by Calcaterra.
After that, Madison transitioned with some offense of their own and almost scored on an unlikely play when forward Katie McCarter put a soft shot on goal. Ramsey goaltender Christina Esposito misplayed the seemingly harmless shot and deflected a ball that bounced off the post before going out of bounds.
“We made it a 40-minute game. We just said that we wanted to go out, defend the same, just stand up strong. In the second half we just said…we got to work better possession,” Lynott said.
The quality chances earned by the Ramsey offense finally proved dividends when they were able to break through with the first goal of the contest at the 12:13 mark of the second. Knief used her speed to get behind the Madison defense before firing a shot into the left corner of the goal from about six yards.
Trailing for the first time in state tournament play this season, Madison answered right back with a score from Zimmerman less than six minutes later. Emily Beaman lofted a high ball to midfield that the senior got control of after it deflected off of a few Ramsey defenders. She raced toward the goal and lasered a shot that beat Esposito over the left shoulder before going into the back of the cage to make the score 1-1.
“At 1-1 I thought ‘hey, we bounced back," Lynott told TheAlternativePress.com. “Mentally you've got to concentrate for 80 minutes against a side like this. That’s part of the game that we talk about all year; that mental concentration and focus that they have to keep.”
It appeared that Madison had most, if not all, of the momentum on their side after the tying goal, but that proved not to be the case as they gave up two goals in a span of 2:19 midway through the second half.
Knief netted her second tally of the game when she blasted a turnaround shot from the ‘18 that found its way into the back right corner of the net. On Ramsey’s very next shot, Jensen scored from close range as Madison was trailing 3-1 with 14:23 remaining to play.
“They had two girls up top who are mobile, quick, aggressive, fast and we saw that tonight,” Lynott said in reference to Knief and Jensen. “I thought for the majority of the game we defended them well… from open play."
Zimmerman was able to get one more shot on goal with her team trailing by two, but her attempt for just outside the opposition’s box went wide right.
For Madison, it was maybe a game to forget, but certainly a season to remember. They finish the year with a 15-5-1 record, an improvement from last season. They also captured the North 2, Group 2 title last week; their first sectional title in 26 years.
“Just an unbelievable season for us. I was extremely proud of my girls. I’m very pleased with them and what they’ve done for this school,” Lynott said.
In the first half Madison was more then content to fill the backline with most of their players and play strong defense.
Madison finished with six shots on the goal in the contest. Calcaterra made 12 saves for her team.
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