NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence girls' varsity lacrosse team has played several close, overtime games so far this season. However, none were closer than Tuesday's game against undefeated Caldwell.
Trailing by two goals in the final minute, the Pioneers tied the game with 13 seconds left to send it to overtime. After taking a 14-13 lead in the first period of overtime, the Pioneers lost 15-14 in sudden death.
Ikeoma Ikpe scored with two minutes to play in the final, sudden death overtime period to keep Caldwell's season-long winning streak alive.
Despite the loss, New Providence head coach Jenn Henry was happy with the way her team performed in the final minutes.
She said: "All the girls pulled together to get it down and get the ball back when we needed it and get the goal."
The game was back-and-forth during regulation time, as the team's traded goals over the first 10 minutes. After New Providence's Jill Balog tied the game at 3-3 with 13:57 to play in the first half, Caldwell scored two straight to take a 5-3 lead.
With 1:14 remaining in the half, Emily Molstad cut the Pioneer deficit to one going into the break.
The Pioneers opened the second half scoring back-to-back tallies to take a 6-5 lead, as Molstad and Megan Mahlstadt found the net.
The Chiefs responded with two goals from Ijeoma Ikpe to retake the lead. The rest of the second half was controlled by the Chiefs, as they led by as many as two goals leading up to New Providence's final minute comeback.
Trailing 13-10 with 1:30 to play, the Pioneers scored three times to put the game to overtime. Balog, Dominique Iacovelli and Nicole Sanczyk each scored during the stretch to send the New Providence faithful into a frenzy.
"Jill Balog wasn't feeling her best today," Henry said. "She just pulled it out for the team. She did anything she needed to."
The Pioneers took the lead with 1:15 to play in the first overtime period when Molstad scored her fourth goal of the game. However, in the second extra period, Emily Banaszynski tied the game with 2:35 to play.
Ikpe followed with the game-winner less than one minute into the sudden-death period.
"We started out the season with two close losses to two great teams and another one midway through and now this one," Henry said. "What it shows us is you play until the last whistle and you play your heart out. Sometimes it might not be enough, but it gets you through until the next game."
New Providence will return to the field on Thursday when they host Montclair at 4 p.m.