Those in attendance at Friday afternoon’s girls’ lacrosse game were treated to a beautiful late April day and a thrilling finish as the Bears outlasted Staten Island Academy in sudden death overtime to improve to 5-0 on the season.
The Bears looked strong in the opening minutes as they built a 3-0 lead less than five minutes into the game behind a Morgan Ruggieri free position goal, an unassisted goal from Ava McCormick, and a free position goal from Michelle Xuan. Interspersed between the goals were three separate point blank saves from Emily Berger that kept the Tigers at bay, for the time being. SIA finally lit up their side of the scoreboard at the 18:33 mark, but goals from Ruggieri at the 8:27 and 6:40 marks, the first of which was a dive around the left side of the goal, pushed the Bear lead to 5-1. Staten Island cut into their deficit with 5:29 remaining in the half as the Bears took a 5-2 lead into the break. Berger finished the half with 15 saves including nine stuffs right on the doorstep.
As the second half began, the Tigers ramped up their aggressive play and dominated the time of possession, leading to a four-goal run that left them up 6-5 at the 20:49 mark. Despite watching their four-goal cushion completely evaporate, the Bears displayed impressive resilience as they controlled the next four draws to fuel a five-goal surge that left them ahead 10-6. Ruggieri scored the first of four straight, thanks to a pick from McCormick, at the 19:46 mark. She scored again at the 17:20 mark on a give-and-go with McCormick, shoveled home a goal at 16:25, and scored on a rebound at 14:12. Xuan capped the run with a sensational shot that ricocheted off of the crossbar and into the bottom left corner as the Bears built a commanding 10-6 advantage with 13:53 remaining. Shockingly, it would be their last score of the second half. Meanwhile, Berger continued her sensational performance between the pipes, making a point blank save at 11:40, a free position save at 11:05, and a pair of doorstep saves at the 10:15 mark.
The Tigers cut into their deficit with a goal with 9:56 on the clock, but the Bear defense held Staten Island scoreless for nearly six minutes until they pulled to within 8-10 with 4:05 remaining. Just over a minute later, the Tigers closed to within 9-10, but the Bears won the draw and nearly killed the final moments of the game, when the Tigers forced a turnover thanks to an aggressive triple team with 50 seconds remaining. On the ensuing play, the Tigers raced up field and scored the equalizer with just 8.4 seconds left. 10-10.
The game moved to a three-minute sudden death overtime period. Tensions were high as both teams stepped in for the draw, but Ruggieri mercifully brought swift relief by controlling the draw, racing up field, and firing the game-winner in all of 15 seconds.
Ruggieri finished with 8 goals, an assist, and 5 draw controls. Xuan scored a pair of goals while McCormick added a goal, an assist, and 4 draw controls. Berger finished with a gaudy 26 saves on the day. The Bears are back in action this afternoon vs. Portledge in a match-up of PSAA unbeatens.