C. Milton Wright's girls lacrosse team had several leads against North Harford in Thursday night's key Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference game, but the No. 11 Mustangs couldn't put the Hawks away until the final three seconds of overtime.
Abby Smucker rolled the crease and scored the game-winner in a 12-11 victory over the No. 14 Hawks as time ticked away in the six-minute overtime period. It was the fifth straight victory for the Mustangs over North Harford, and it boosted them into sole possession of first place in the UCBAC Chesapeake Division.
Several times, the visiting Mustangs (9-2, 5-0 conference) appeared ready to finish off North Harford (9-3, 4-1), but each time the Hawks rallied. They scored three goals in the final 2:02 of regulation, including two from Maddy Dolinar, to tie 9-9. In overtime, they rallied from two goals down to tie at 11.
The Mustangs' Sara Nolan made perhaps the biggest play of the night when she controlled the draw after Emily Clark tied the game at 11 with 34 seconds left in overtime.
Smucker, a junior midfielder who finished with four goals, took the ball behind the goal and used her favorite move, a slippery crease roll, to score the deciding goal.
"Towards the end it was just a mental game with us," Smucker said. "They had come back on us twice and we knew we needed to keep our composure, stay focused. At the end, I just tried my hardest, rolled the crease and shot it low. I had been shooting high all game so I thought I'd change it up."
The Mustangs are used to being in tight games with the Hawks. Three of the last four meetings have been decided by one goal.
"We talked all week long about how [North Harford] had a fantastic front seven and they were going to be able to score goals," C. Milton Wright coach Brent Ritz said. "We talked about being mentally tough and being able to weather those storms."
In overtime, the team that won the draw scored every time. C. Milton Wright jumped ahead 11-9 on goals from Katie Burgee and Smucker. The first six minutes of overtime are played out before going to sudden death, so the Hawks were able to rally behind goals from Kelli Gerding and Clark.
In regulation, the Mustangs appeared to finish it with a late three-goal run from Burgee, Smucker and Katie Gallagher to pull ahead 9-6 with 2:53 to go. The Hawks, who had turned the ball over four times during that Mustangs run, took better care with their possessions in the final two and a half minutes.
Brittany Boden scored with 2:02 to go, and Dolinar scored at close range after a terrific fake to cut the Mustangs' lead to 9-8 with 1:27 left. The Mustangs won the next draw but turned the ball over with 37 seconds remaining, and Dolinar made them pay with a free-position goal 15 seconds later.
The Hawks won most of the early draws, but the Mustangs won 11 of the last 16, including four of the first six in overtime.
"When you're playing a team that's equally matched, you've got to have the draw control," North Harford coach Tara Buecker said. "There were a lot of ups and downs there at the end, and our girls just needed to be smart and move the ball well. We had our opportunities, we just weren't finishing."
Goals: CM—Smucker 4, K. Burgee 3, Haggerty 2, K. Gallagher, M. Gallagher, Williams; NH—Dolinar 3, E.Clark 2, Monticello 2, Gerding 2, Schrof, Boden. Assists: CM—K. Gallagher; NH—Monticello. Saves: CM—McKee 8; NH—Ensor 7. Half: CM, 5-4. End of reg.: 9-9.