By Jeff Lander
MANCHESTER— Down 10-7 midway through the second-half, Manchester Essex coach Sarah Holch pulled her team to the side and offered her girls some words of motivation.
"Every ground ball counts, every goal counts, every possession counts" she said.
Taking it one possession at a time, the Hornets came stinging back to defeat Hamilton-Wenham 13-12 in a chilly double-overtime victory at Hyland Field.
With 1:55 remaining in regulation, Taylor Meek juked a pair of General defenders to set herself in front of the opposing net. Now in close range, Meek buried a top-shelf goal, her eighth of the contest, to tie the game at 10-10.
Just 20 seconds later, Manchester Essex looked like they were going to complete the comeback in regulation.
Meek grabbed control of the following face-off and tried crashing the net. After she was double-teamed by a pair of defenders, she dropped a pass back to Brittany Smith. The General defenders tried crashing on Smith, however, Smith jumped up and buried a one-hop goal on the far-side of the net to give Manchester Essex an 11-10 advantage with 1:32 left.
The lead was short lived, as it vanished just 24-seconds later.
Hamilton-Wenham attacker Emily Gaucher scooped up a loose ground ball, slipped through the Hornet defense, and sent the game into overtime with 1:09 remaining.
The overtime period in women's lacrosse isn't a traditional sudden-death format. The frame is broken-up into two three-minute halves. At the end of the first three minutes, the teams switch sides and play for an additional three minutes. Since it isn't sudden-death, if the score remains tied after the first six minutes, then they play a second overtime. This second overtime is structured the same exact way, except with the sudden-death stipulation added.
A minute into the first overtime, a Manchester Essex penalty gave the Generals a free-position shot. Freshman goalie Katie Furber turned away a hard-shot with a nice stick save to keep the game tied.
After nearly scoring the game-winner in regulation, Brittany Smith was given another chance with 57.9 seconds remaining in the first overtime. A pushing penalty gave her a free-position opportunity. She promptly buried a goal in the top right-hand corner of the net to give the Hornets a 12-11 advantage. For the second-time in the game, Manchester Essex only needed to hold-on for a minute to seal the victory, however, they squandered their chance on a penalty with 28.6 seconds remaining.
Catherinee Ecker, the recipient of the Hornet penalty, took her free-position shot and sent the game into a second overtime.
With no chance for rebuttal, Megan Jones took matters into her own hands for Manchester Essex.
Jones scooped up an errant pass by the Hamilton-Wenham goalie Morgan Kimball at he 30-yard line. She sliced and diced her way through the Generals' defense and rifled a low-shot from the 15-yard line past the stick of Kimball to seal the exciting 13-12 victory for the Hornets.
Holch was very encouraged by her teams performance in this nail-biting affair.
"I think it was so positive that we pulled off a win" she said, "We had a tough loss on Monday, but we had three wins in a row before that so this was a big one to get back on track. Everyone played much harder and they found that within themselves."
Not to go unnoticed, Meek had an outstanding game and was instrumental in the victory. During one stretch, she scored five straight goals, including seven of her teams' first eight goals. Katie Furber also played well in net, making 12 hard-earned saves.