Reservoir’s Max Schuster couldn’t believe the lane that opened up in front of him. With his team tangled in a grudge match with Marriotts Ridge, Schuster realized he could end Friday's game if he made good on the opportunity.
The junior midfielder sprinted down the alley and fired a shot high into the top right corner of the goal to lift the visiting Gators past the Mustangs, 7-6, in a triple overtime thriller.
“Once I got off a pick I saw the right side was open so I just split back,” Schuster said. “It was open. You want to be the one who gets that opportunity to score and once I saw it, I just took it.”
The win marks the first time in Reservoir’s history that it has ever defeated Marriotts Ridge – a fact not lost on head coach Bryan Cole.
“It’s a big deal,” Cole said. “It’s really sweet, especially for me because this is my ninth season here. We’ve come from 0-12 the first year to having guys that can really compete in the county.
“That was a great lacrosse game. That’s why (Marriotts Ridge) coach Incontrera and I are in this, for games like that. They played hard and we played hard. Every possession mattered. We came out on the winning side and there are no complaints about that.”
Reservoir jumped on top early with a dominating first quarter.
The Gators won all four face-offs, controlled possession and connected on their first two shots of the game. Cole Evans got the ball rolling with a score two minutes in and Kevin Olenik finished a left-handed shot.
Austin Marsh ended the period with his ninth goal of the year as Reservoir led 3-0.
“They took control of the game in that first quarter and we were digging ourselves out of that hole the rest of the game,” Marriotts Ridge coach Tony Incontrera said. “I’m proud of how our kids responded to that adversity.”
The Mustangs dug themselves out slowly but surely. Duncan Campbell jump-started the offense with the lone goal of the second quarter, then Patrick Clipp sent a high-to-high laser into the back of the net and Austin Dorsey finished in front of the cage on an assist by Jack Grote to tie the game at 3-3 midway through the third.
After trading goals later in the period, the contest was knotted at 4-4 entering the final quarter.
Duncan gave Marriotts Ridge its first lead of the game when he dodged left before spinning back right for a score. Sam Hebner added a man-up score and the Mustangs led 6-4 with 5:29 left in regulation.
Just 42 seconds later, however, Marsh collected his second goal of the contest and Evans scored with 3:33 remaining to force overtime.
Both goalies – Reservoir’s Trent Teodori and Marriotts Ridge’s Chris McTague – came up huge with timely stops in the extra sessions. Teodori (12 saves) stonewalled a shot at the buzzer in overtime before McTague (14 saves) stopped three point-blank attempts in the second overtime.
“That was the biggest team game that I’ve ever seen our boys play,” Evans said. “You win when you’re a team. We had plenty of looks but (McTague) kept stuffing us but my boy Max finally put it in there.”
With 2 minutes, 47 seconds to go in the third overtime, Schuster fired in the game-winner and his teammates rushed to celebrate with him, landing him at the bottom of the mosh pit.
“It’s hard to breathe down there,” Schuster said. “It took me two seconds to realize it went in and everybody came rushing.”
On a night where it was especially hard to be on the bitter end of the loss, Incontrera had to give credit to Reservoir for their resolve.
“They fought hard and dug themselves out of that hole in the fourth quarter,” he said. “My hat goes off to them for not giving in, and not rushing things in crunch time.”