CLINTON TWP. — Heading into overtime, head coach Stacy Ditze outlined a specific plan for her North Hunterdon High School girls lacrosse team.
It was a simple one: score quickly, win the ensuing draw and try and maintain possession for as long as possible to hold on for a win.
The Lions checked off every one of those goals and even added a second goal for some added cushion, and captured an up-and-down affair, 14-12 in overtime against Hunterdon Central Saturday afternoon.
Senior Julia Wood led the scoring brigade with seven of the Lions’ 14 goals, including both in the two three-minute overtime sessions, and three in a 3:12 minute stretch to open the second half.
“I have to give it up to Allison [Lane], who fed me multiple times off the draws, so it wasn’t just me; it was a huge team effort,” Wood said. “I just finished and it was very nerve-wracking for us, playing down a man for so long.”
North Hunterdon (6-1) went down a man for the remainder of the game when it was whistled for a fourth yellow card deep in regulation. Per the referees, the Lions played the final moments of regulation and all of overtime down one player, but even with a disadvantage, North Hunterdon scored the game’s final five goals, erasing a 12-9 deficit with 8:06 to play.
When asked how her squad was able to get the victory, despite all of the cards, Ditze didn’t have a definitive answer.
“I’m not so sure [how we won this game],” she said. “In the end, it was the draw that was the difference. Especially in the overtime. We had a really good plan going into the overtime and we put a second goal in, which wasn’t even a part of the plan but it helped us out.”
The two teams played a roller-coaster type game right from the start, when the game was tied on three separate instances in the first 12 minutes of play. But Hunterdon Central seized control from there, getting two goals from Courtney Patterson and one each from Kira Greer and Holly Andersen to take a 7-4 lead into the half.
But North Hunterdon would battle back, getting three of Wood’s seven goals in succession in the opening minutes of the second half, with classmate Allison Lane picking up a pair of assists in that spurt. Lane, who averages better than four goals per contest this season, was held without a point in the first 25 minutes, but she used her size and strength to rack up two goals and two assists in the second half. She was a dominant force on the draw control, using her height advantage to earn possession for the Lions on multiple occasions down the stretch.
“Allison’s height helped us tremendously today, but Central did a really good job of boxing us out. I just told them that we needed to take one step back and go around them on the draws and we’d be OK,” Ditze said. “We weren’t as strong today as we usually are, but her height is huge. In overtime it really showed for us.”
Patterson finished with four goals for Hunterdon Central (2-4) and Greer and Carly Mastrogiacomo each scored twice. The Red Devils held three different three-goal leads, but couldn’t control the draws down the stretch to preserve an upset victory.