When you lose a halftime lead and an overtime lead, it’s hard not to feel the sting. The Warwick Vets girls’ lacrosse team was feeling it Thursday, but as their game with Tiverton wore on, the Hurricanes knew they were going to carry some momentum forward whether they won or lost.
The ’Canes turned in by far their best offensive performance of the season and never blinked when the game turned into a back-and-forth affair in the second half. The result just wasn’t quite what the ’Canes wanted. Tiverton rallied from a three-goal deficit in overtime to win the slugfest 20-19.
“We’ll try to take positives,” said Vets head coach Kathy Moan. “They played an awesome first half, an amazing first half. They kind of fell apart early in the second half, but then they stuck with it. I have to say, each game we’re getting better and better, regardless of what the score is.”
Last year, the ’Canes didn’t win a game. Despite playing in a tougher Division II this season, they’ve already out-done that. They picked up their first win last Monday against Lincoln.
Moan feels that the transformation really took hold in the game before that, when Vets lost a close game to Division III title contender Narragansett.
“I feel like it turned in the Narragansett game,” Moan said. “We lost that game by three goals but it felt like a turning point. They’re getting more confident, they’re making better passes and they’re getting better shots on goal every game.”
The improvement was on full display Thursday, and it looked like it would lead to a second straight victory.
Tiverton came in with a 2-2 record and scored the first goal of the game just 23 seconds in. But Vets answered almost immediately on a goal from Savannah Hersey.
After the teams traded goals for the next 10 minutes, Vets surged. A score by Jenna Fontaine with 14:09 left in the first half and another by Emily Almonte just 14 seconds later touched off the team’s best offensive stretch of the season. Vets out-scored Tiverton 8-1 over the rest of the first half, getting two goals from Fontaine and six from Almonte.
The ’Canes took an 11-4 lead into the break.
“We were winning the draws,” Moan said. “We were down in the attack zone a lot in the first half.”
Unfortunately for the ’Canes, that changed early in the second half – and it ended up changing the game in the process.
Tiverton scored 56 seconds into the second half and set off a parade of goals and draw controls. When it was over, the Tigers had turned an 11-4 game into an 11-10 game in just nine minutes.
“In the second half, we just couldn’t win the draws like we were winning them in the first half,” Moan said. “We were shuffling people around, moving things around, but we couldn’t get them consistently.”
The ’Canes eventually stopped the onslaught with a goal from Almonte at the 14:40 mark and they upped the lead to three with 11:34 left, but they would never be fully in control again.
The game was officiated tightly, with whistles coming nearly every time the defense converged near the net. Between that and explosive offenses on each side, both teams had their hands full.
“I think they let a lot of the calls get in their heads, especially on defense,” Moan said. “They were kind of timid because they didn’t know what they could do or not do. I think that had a lot to do with it in the early part of the second half. Then it just went back-and-forth.”
After Vets made it 14-11, Tiverton’s Sam Welchman cut it back to two with her eighth goal of the game. The teams then went nearly four minutes without a goal, one of the longest stretches of the game, before Tiverton’s Elise Daglis scored with six minutes left to make it 14-13.
Vets controlled the next draw and capitalized on the possession, with Casey Bennett scoring to make it 15-13 with 5:42 left. But the Tigers came right back, getting a goal from Welchman at 5:03 and another at 3:03 to tie the game.
Vets went in front one more time on a goal by Almonte – her 10th of the game – but Tiverton won the next draw and tied the game on a goal by Welchman with 1:57 left.
Both teams threatened over that final 1:57. Victoria Flynn sent a shot wide for Vets, before Tiverton’s Jackie Wilson got a great look with 15 seconds left. Vets goalie Katelen Pick made the save of the day to keep the game tied.
“This is her first year ever and she’s coming into her own,” Moan said. “She made some big saves.”
Overtime featured two three-minute periods, and Vets did exactly what it wanted at the start. After another save by Pick, Bennett gave Vets the lead with a goal off a free position. Vets won the next draw, got a goal from Almonte, then won the draw again and scored on a goal by Ricki Beaufort. Vets led 19-16 with 54 seconds left in the first overtime.
Once again, though, the lead didn’t last. Tiverton’s Rebecca Turner made it 19-17 with 25 seconds left in the first extra period.
The Tigers controlled the opening draw in the second overtime period but missed a shot wide, and Vets took over. The ’Canes ran some time off the clock, missed a shot with 1:20 left, got the ball back but then turned it over on a dangerous pass with one minute to go.
Tiverton capitalized, getting a goal in traffic from Wilson with 43 seconds left. Wilson then made a leaping catch to control the draw, raced into the zone and tied the game with 30 seconds left.
The next draw was up for grabs, but Tiverton was awarded possession on a Vets foul. With 15 seconds left, Tess Bradley streaked into the middle and fired a shot past Pick for the 20-19 lead.
The Tigers won the final draw and ran out the clock, dealing Vets a disappointing loss.
“It was a tough game,” Moan said. “I always tell my defense you need to talk and make sure you know where the ball is. They can’t be afraid to slide and put more pressure on the ball. We tell them that all the time, but I think they’re a little bit timid to leave somebody open.”
Welchman scored 11 goals to lead the Tigers, while Almonte did the same for Vets. Bennett and Fontaine had two goals each, while Hersey, Beaufort, Kara McCrudden and Nicole Luiz scored one apiece.
“We’re getting better,” Moan said. “That’s all we can ask for. I hope it builds their confidence. They see that we’re scoring more goals, playing better, passing better. I they’re getting more and more confident every game.”
Vets was scheduled to be back in action Monday against East Providence, with results unavailable at press time. They’ll host Lincoln School on Wednesday at 4 p.m.