WHIPPANY PARK, NJ - Jessie Green found the back of the net on a free position shot to give the Cedar Grove Panthers girls lacrosse team an 9-8 overtime victory over Whippany Park on Thursday.
After a rough first half, the Panthers trailed 5-1, with Taylor St. Laurent scoring the lone first half goal for the Panthers. It looked as if Whippany Park would continue to dominate when they scored again in the opening minutes of the second half to take a 6-1 lead, however the Panthers were not done. Tracy Moreno kicked off a seven goal run for the Panthers that went unanswered by Whippany Park until the final seconds of the game when they tied it up at 8-8 to force an overtime period. Cedar Grove would not be denied and Green delivered the goal that clinched the win.
"I think what we saw out there today, coming back from a 6-1 deficit, really shows what our team is all about," said Head Coach Sean Sweeney. "I don’t believe that at any point during the game any of our players thought we would lose. I could see it all over their faces that they were not going to give up."
Moreno said she was disappointed after the first half and knew the team could do better. She said Sweeney told them that the only way to win was to play as a team.
"He told us we have to work as a team and get together and play hard, play like there's no tomorrow and we could pull through and win," Moreno said. "In the second half everyone really came together as a team. We settled the ball, we made smarter passes, and everyone was playing more for "us" than themselves and making the right passes, looking to the middle, and we just didn't give up."
Bethany Peterson led for the Panthers with three goals and an assist, while Moreno and Green each tallied two goals and an assist in the win. Loren Vitali had a goal and an assist for Cedar Grove. Summer Nesto had two assists for the Panthers and Haley Diess and Molly Bauer had an assist each.
After a recent double overtime loss to Hackettstown, the Panthers knew first hand how heartbreaking it can be and Sweeney said he was confident they wouldn't allow it to happen again.
"When we got the ball on that final possession I was very confident that every one of our players was going to do everything within their power to help us make a play that would win the game and that’s exactly what happened," Sweeney explained. "We often speak about being a team player and putting the team’s success above your personal success and that’s what allowed us to make this huge comeback today."
The Panthers improve to 5-3 for the season. They host Livingston on Saturday at 11 a.m.
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.
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