The Pilgrim girls’ lacrosse team didn’t think anything could top the first victory in program history, which the Pats earned last week. But Tuesday’s thriller against Chariho might have done the trick.
The Pats and Chargers played nearly 60 minutes of back-and-forth lacrosse and still found themselves locked in a tie after two halves of an overtime period. Finally, in a sudden death second overtime period, Betsy Heidel won the opening draw, raced into the zone and scored the game-winning goal as the Pats posted a memorable 13-12 victory.
“The first one was great,” said Pilgrim head coach Tom Flanders. “The second one, I’ll tell you, it’s just as good, if not better. It’s unbelievable. It was an up-and-down roller-coaster of a game. We’re thrilled to be on the winning end of it.”
The Pats have now tasted victory twice in a seven days after going without it for a full year. Last season was Pilgrim’s first as a program, and the team went winless. The Pats started this season with four straight losses before making history last Wednesday with a 10-5 win over Westerly. It was a perfect night, as the Pats honored fallen teammate Elanna Zuller and then came away with the victory.
“It was just a beautiful night, one that was topped off with a victory as well,” Flanders said. “Winning that was just an amazing thing to do.”
The Pats returned to action Friday and lost 17-11 to undefeated Portsmouth, but with one win under their belts, they really wanted another.
Chariho, which came in with a 2-4 record, didn’t make it easy, but the Pats found a way. They trailed 11-10 late in the second half but tied it. After falling behind in the non-sudden death overtime, they came back to tie it again.
Then Heidel took over.
The period started with three minutes on the clock, and the first team to score would get the victory. Heidel made sure her team had the first chance. She flipped the ball high in the air on the draw and quickly tracked it down.
She then barely broke stride on her way to the net, and with a head of steam behind her, she ripped a shot into the goal and touched off a raucous celebration. Just fifteen seconds had come off the clock.
“Honestly, I just wanted it so bad that it didn’t even matter,” Heidel said. “I just said, ‘I’m going to get it.’ We all wanted it so bad. I know how hard we’ve worked over the last two years. It wasn’t like, ‘What if we don’t get it?’ We were going to get it. No choice.”
Despite tallying 13 goals, the Pats had struggled all night to get the ball past Chariho goalie Kaitlin Dollof, who made 21 saves. But this time, there was no stopping the Pats.
“When they came over here, we told them, ‘It’s one goal and we go home,’” Flanders said. “We win. They won the draw, Heidel went down and took care of business and we’re standing here smiling. It was like a runner at a finish line. She looked at it and said, ‘I only need one to finish this thing,’ and she went down and got it.”
Heidel’s goal was a fitting final act on what could easily be called the best game in Pilgrim lacrosse history. It was back-and-forth the whole way, with Chariho leading 8-7 at halftime. Neither team had more than a one-goal lead the rest of the way.
And it came down to the wire. Trailing 10-9, Chariho scored a goal with 6:55 left to tie the game then took the lead with 3:41 left on a goal by Mattie Russell.
But the Pats didn’t back down. With 1:15 left in the second half, freshman Michaela Giuttari drove to the net and slipped a pass to senior captain Brianna Boucher, who caught it and buried a shot to make it 11-11.
In the first of two three-minute overtime halves, Chariho went back on top thanks to a goal by Carissa DeSantis, but the Pats again came back. They won the draw in the second half of the overtime, and Haley McCusker drove hard to the net. A whistle gave her a free position and she didn’t waste the chance, drilling a shot past Dolloff to make it 12-12.
Chariho had a chance to take the lead soon after, but Pilgrim goalie Kayleen Murphy made a save on a shot by Tahlia Maron to preserve the tie. Dollof also made a save on a shot by McCusker, and the teams went to double overtime.
The rest was history.
“Our kids hung tough,” Flanders said. “We persevered and we stayed positive throughout, even when Chariho had the one-goal lead in the first overtime. They did what they had to do to get to the sudden death.”
And the result was another wild night.
“It was so nerve-wracking,” said junior captain Ami Marks, who celebrated her birthday with three goals. “Last year was so rough, and we really want to prove to other people what we can do. After one win, we were so pumped. To get two is amazing.”
McCusker led the Pats with four goals, while Marks and Heidel had three each. Boucher, Giuttari and Gabrielle Demers chipped in with one goal apiece. Giutarri, Emma Kunz and Julianna Mollo added two assists, while Heidel and Cara Beneduce had one apiece.
Murphy had a strong performance in net, while Britney Howland, Ali Widmann and Kelly Vatter led the defense.
“There were a lot of positives,” Flanders said. “It was one of those great days.”
While they may not be able to match the thrill of their first victory and a double overtime win, the Pats will try to find the win column again today when they visit cross-town rival Warwick Vets at 4 p.m.