MAPLEWOOD, NJ -- The Columbia High varsity field hockey team knew they were in for a long week before it started. With three games in four days, their conditioning would be put to the test.

On Tuesday at Underhill Field, the Cougars treated fans to a thrilling contest against Gov. Livingston High that ended in a 1-1 overtime tie. This was the Cougars’ second night in a row playing into overtime.

“To be able to do that (last night), come back and fight hard to the very end today shows what good shape we’re in,” said sixth-year head coach Maggie Singler after the game Tuesday. “We’re such a team down to the very last second.”

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Senior forward Sofia DiPasquale scored her third goal of the season on a stroke (a penalty shot) to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead early in the second half. DiPasquale had a few shots on goal but her strength is her unselfishness. She always looks for the open teammate in space.

Governor Livingston’s Jessica Minkoff tied the game with 10:19 remaining in regulation. The ball was batted around for several seconds near the Columbia goalie, sophomore Lailah Shorter, and Minkoff was able to finally poke it into the back of the net.  

The overtime period saw a few exciting moments and goal-scoring opportunities for each team but none more exhilarating than the game’s final sequence. With less than 10 seconds remaining, DiPasquale slid a pass through the last line of Highlander defense, leaving teammate Sarah Rittgers all alone with the Governor Livingston goalie. Rittgers simply ran out of time and couldn’t get a shot off.

“If we had 10 more seconds on the clock, I think that it would’ve gone in,” Singler said. 

Singler praised her team for their vast improvements from last season, when they only won three games all season.

The Cougars will test their mettle once again on Thursday when they host an opening-round Essex County Tourney game against Mount St. Dominic Academy at 5 p.m.   

The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.