MONTCLAIR, NJ- The New Providence High School Pioneers girls varsity lacrosse team saw a four-goal lead vanish within the final ten minutes of the second half and with a hungry Montclair Kimberley Academy High School Cougars team clawing their way back to give themselves a chance at a potential comeback.
50 minutes of regulation and a three-minute overtime period weren’t enough to decide a winner.
As the game shifted to the double overtime period, Pioneers senior Elena DelDuca set up in the zone as the clock ticked down in the final seconds.
She immediately fired a shot on net with two seconds left, capping a wild win as the fifth-seeded Pioneers defeated the fourth-seeded Cougars 14-13 in double overtime Friday afternoon in Montclair.
The New Providence Pioneers (12-6) advance to the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 Semifinals. They will travel to play at top-seeded Oak Knoll HS in Summit Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m.
DelDuca, who secured a hat trick with the winner and had five assists for eight total points on the afternoon, described the setup that led to the goal after a wild second half between the two teams.
“As soon as we got down there [on the field], I think we did a great job at working,” DelDuca said. “People went in and when they didn’t have it, they pulled it right out. When I had the ball, I saw [the chance] clearly and I went for it.”
New Providence held on to an 8-7 lead as the second half started and played toe-and-toe with Montclair Kimberley Academy, with goals coming on almost every possession after each team got a successful grip on the faceoff.
With New Providence trailing 9-8, senior Iris Kaloshi started an offensive surge for the Pioneers, tying the game at 9-9 with her second goal of the game. Sophomore Kaitlyn Cumiskey added two goals, while DelDuca and sophomore Sadie Miller tallied a goal each to give the Pioneers a 13-9 lead on five unanswered goals with 10:14 left in the second half.
Montclair Kimberley Academy wasn’t ready to concede just yet, as they went right to work on getting back in the game. Kirsten Zeug began the Cougars comeback, getting her team back within 13-10 at 15:13 of the second half.
Lily Pryor and Taylor Everson scored a goal each to suddenly make it a 13-12 game with 2:43 left in the second half. Claire Linaugh completed the rally with the game-tying goal with 1:11 left, turning what seemed like a steep hill to climb, into anybody’s game.
New Providence was on defense, needing a stop, as they prevented any Cougars shots from even getting set up to force overtime.
“Our biggest focus was to play the game we always play,” New Providence head coach Jennifer Henry said. “To keep our composure, just keep on trying. We didn’t want to get caught fouling or making any mistakes that way.”
The teams paced back-and-forth in the first overtime, with nothing reaching the back of the net. Cumiskey, who scored six goals and had one assist for a total of seven points, missed a chance on goal with ten second left to set up the second overtime period. She spoke of her team’s resiliency as the afternoon progressed.
“[Montclair Kimberley Academy is] a great team. It was very back-and-forth and when we were fighting, they fought back and it was very tough,” Cumiskey said. “We wanted it for our seniors badly and we fought for those final 25 minutes and that overtime, all until we got it.”
“It might’ve taken us the entire game and two overtime periods, but I knew [the players] could do it,” Henry said. “They work really well together and I believe no matter who it was, someone who step up and be able to take us to the next game.”