While the Staples and Fairfield Ludlowe girls lacrosse teams played out a pulsating 13-13 tie on Saturday afternoon at Taft Field, one side left the field far happier than the other.
The Wreckers held an 11-4 lead with 20:41 to play and appeared to be coasting to an easy win, but the Falcons stormed all the way back to force overtime. Ali Gorab scored with 24 seconds left in regulation from a free position and K.C. McAuliffe scored with 1:17 left in overtime to claim the unlikeliest of draws.
"We let (Ludlowe) back in," Staples coach Peter Najarian said. "I'm very proud of my girls; that's lacrosse. You can score a lot of goals in a short period of time and (Ludlowe) got some momentum and came back. I'm really proud of my girls, they worked really hard and did everything right. We thought we were on our way to a nice victory at the time and that's how it goes."
Paige Murray led all scorers with five goals, including one with 1:17 in the first half of overtime that looked like it would be the game-winner. Thinking there was only one period to be played, the Wreckers ran out the clock despite getting outstanding looks at the cage.
But McAuliffe had the final say, scoring from a foul midway inside the Wreckers' half. Staples was called for a moving screen while trying to advance the ball. McAuliffe found space in transition and fired a bouncing shot past Staples goalie Emma Boland.
"I think moving forward for the rest of our season this was a huge boost," Ludlowe coach Heather Lewsey said.
Mistakes down the stretched doomed the Wreckers (8-4-1) during their attempt to run out the clock in regulation. After Bryce McClure scored for the Falcons to make it 12-11 with 1:58 left, Staples controlled the draw and tried to run out the clock. However, errant passes and a shot on goal gave the Falcons possession and one final chance to tie.
After stopping Ludlowe's (4-6-1) centering feed with 45 seconds left, the Wreckers were penalized while trying to advance the ball up the field. Gorab, who scored four times, then drew a foul with time running out and made no mistake, finding the back of the cage.
"She's one of our great attackers," Lewsey said of Gorab. "We recently nominated her for all-FCIAC and she's all over the field. She actually had never played defense before until midway through the season. Occasionally she goes back on defense and gets the ball up. She's a confident player and as a leader the team looks to her a lot."
Staples dominated the first 30 minutes in building an 11-4 advantage. Ryan Kirshner scored four goals for the Wreckers, including a pair of outstanding sharp angle shots. Murray scored three of her goals from free positions, expertly working her way into the goal circle before drawing contact and cashing in.
"(Murray) did a great job, she's one of our go-to players and she delivers when she needs to and she did a great job today," Najerian said.
The contest was a non-league game, so the result did not affect either's position in their goal to qualify for the FCIAC playoffs. The Falcons missed out on a chance to qualify for the state tournament, but with games against St. Joseph (Thursday) and Westhill (Saturday) ahead, Ludlowe should be on track to qualify despite another transition at head coach.
"They've come so far, new coaches year after year after, learning new styles of defense and new plays on attack, they've really transitioned well," Lewsey said. "They come out to practice every day and work hard, and we are on a streak."
Ryan Lacey is a freelance writer
STAPLES 13, FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 13
STAPLES 9 3 1 -- 13
LUDLOWE 4 8 1 -- 13
Records: Staples 8-4-1, 4-4 FCIAC; Fairfield Ludlowe 4-6-1, 3-5.
Scoring: S -- Paige Murray (5g, 1a), Jenna McNicholas (1g), Sami Bautista (1g), Nicole Najarian (1g), Meredith Hood (1g, 1a), Ryan Kirschner (4g, 1a). L -- Ali Gorab (4g, 1a), KC McAuliffe (3g, 1a), Miranda Rosenfeld (1g), Olivia Morawski (1g), Bryce McClure (2g), Molly Roach (1g), Elizabeth Pratt (1g). Goalies: S -- Emma Boland (9 saves); L -- Sarah Chapdelaine (10 saves).