By Eliot Schickler

eschickler@bcnnew.com

Norwalk senior captain Katie Schmidt ruined the Staples field hockey team's Senior Day.

Schmidt scored the game-winning goal in overtime and assisted on Norwalk's other goal in the Lady Bears' 2-1 victory at Staples Thursday.

"It was definitely one of the biggest games of the season," Schmidt said. "After all the fatigue we had today during the game, this was just a big push and I followed up on the shot."

Norwalk had a breakaway shortly after Lady Bears sophomore goalie Shannon O'Malley aggressive went out of the net and cut down the angle on Lady Wrecker sophomore Noortje Lueb's breakaway attempt. Lueb and Staples senior captain Misha Strage had a chance to win the game with O'Malley (nine saves) standing in the way.

"Shannon did a great job," Norwalk coach Kyle Seaburg said. "She came to me during free period to look at tapes of past games and to look at what she could do to get better."

Following O'Malley's save, senior Lady Bear captain Christine Mace countered with a breakaway and fired a shot on Staples senior goalie Chris Lueb (10 saves), who made the initial stop. However, Schmidt was there to poke home the rebound with 6:14 remaining and spoil the day for the Lady Wreckers.

"Katie is a gamer and other players look up to her and step it up," Seaburg said.

Schmidt said about her game-winner, "I'm shocked but it feels very good."

The Lady Bears raised their record to 10-2-1. The Lady Wreckers moved to 8-3-1-1. One thing Staples can take solace over is that it still garnered a point because an overtime loss carries the same weight as a tie in the FCIAC and Class L standings.

"It was a great moment in sports because it was an up and down game before it ended on a disappointing note," Lady Wreckers coach Cecily Anderson said. "Playing the sport is exciting because you can lose easily if you let your guard down."

Strage said, "It's nice to get a point. A win would have been nicer, but hopefully, we'll play them again and beat them."

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What made this loss even more gnawing for Staples fans is that it apparently took a 2-1 lead with 5:12 left in regulation when Noortje Lueb apparently scored the go-ahead goal when she lifted it into the cage behind O'Malley. However, the goal didn't count because the shot was too high and hit the net without hitting a player first, Anderson had no problem with the call because by rule, the goal shouldn't have counted.

"The initial shot can't be higher than the backboard," Anderson said.

Strage said, "It was tough but what can you do about it. It's the rule."

Before the non-goal and goal, the game had its share of drama between two teams jockeying for position in the FCIAC and Class L playoffs. It was a tale of two halves with Norwalk owning the first half and the Lady Wreckers carrying play in the second half. Overall, the Lady Bears had a 12-10 advantage in shots and both teams had nine penalty corners each.

"It's frustrating and disappointing to lose today because we were better than what we showed in the first half," Anderson said. "If we played better in the first half, it would have been a different game."

In the first half, Schmidt and Mace kept firing away on Lueb. They were helped by senior captain Thenya Taiyanides, who won balls in the midfield and got it to the forwards. Junior Kelly McGonagle and senior Victoria Price played well defensively for Norwalk and helped keep the ball away from O'Malley.

With 24:31 to go in the half, Schmidt fired a shot that Chris Lueb saved but junior Sarah Krysiuk, who was aggressive on offense and fired many shots all game, tipped it in to give the Lady Bears a 1-0 lead.

"We've been working on it in practice," Krysiuk said.

Schmidt said, "She's been working hard and it paid off."

In the second half, the Lady Wreckers took over. Strage, Noortje Lueb and senior captain Blaney Rotanz were aggressive on offense, juniors Sami Bautista and Shelby Phares and freshman Elizabeth Bennewitz won balls in the midfield. The defense was solid with senior captain Callie Hiner leading the charge and keeping the ball away from Chris Lueb. Senior captain Caroline Kearney and junior Josie Fair complemented Hiner on defense and were also solid in the back row.

Strage slid in a shot and tied it 1-1 with 11:30 left in regulation.

"We've been working on corners and with [senior captain] Emily [Ashken] out, we had a new play designed for me," Strage said. "I wanted to tie it and then win it on Senior Day. I took a shot and thankfully, it went in."

Staples continued to dominate and that disallowed goal loomed large. Norwalk was happy to recover in the nick of time.

"We knew coming in they were strong and it would be a good game," Seaburg said. "They are an excellent passing team and we have things we need to work on."

Hiner said, "We really fought back hard and it's unfortunate to lose but we'll use it for the FCIAC and State tournaments."

In addition to Ashken, who was having an All-Star season before suffering an injury, the Lady Wreckers were also missing junior Jackie Lawrence, who is a stabilizing force in the midfield and backfield.

"We would have had a better chance with them," Hiner said.