BRATTLEBORO — With Cinco de Mayo just a few hours away, the Brattleboro Union High School varsity girls lacrosse team earned a victory that was as unlikely as the Mexican Army's over French forces on May 5, 1862.
The Colonels battled back from a four-goal deficit to defeat Keene, 9-8, in overtime, under the lights at Natowich Field on Wednesday.
"We went to more of a run 'n gun attack," said BUHS coach Sarah Clark, when asked how her team was able to turn things around. "Keene has a great defense — they were doubling and sliding."
With the score deadlocked at 4-4 and 7:21 left in the opening half, Callie O'Neil scored four consecutive goals to put the Blackbirds up 8-4 with 10:50 remaining in the game.
But the Colonels still believed and they buried four shots in the final 5:18 of regulation to force overtime. After goals by Susanna Strothman and Megyn Ayotte cut Keene's lead to 8-6, Axis Balsley-Petraska scored off of an Olivia Stent steal and Alexandra Livanis shocked the visiting fans with a winner with 1.4 seconds remaining that pulled the hosts even.
Morgan Derosia won the draw at the beginning of the three-minute overtime session and passed ahead to Balsley-Petraska, who was denied by Keene goalie Allison Wright. After the visitors took the ball the other way, a steal by Brattleboro's Breanna Sheehan started a BUHS possession that ended with Kira McCloskey scoring the game-winner on a free position shot with 1:21 remaining.
"She really connected when it counted," stated coach Clark, who knew that McCloskey was frustrated after missing a few attempts from that same spot earlier in the contest.
Kaeleigh Lord, who has scored over 100 goals in her varsity career, struck twice early on as Keene stole a 4-2 advantage in the first 12 minutes. Hallie Robertson and Jessica Tattersall also tallied for the Blackbirds, while Ayotte and Strothman each fooled Wright once.
Brattleboro goalie Ari Hrabovsky, who is filling in for the injured Brianna Ogden, made three beautiful saves in the first 25 minutes. She robbed O'Neil a couple of times and also rejected Libby Gorske.
"She did great," Clark said of the sophomore netminder. "She killed it when we played against Amherst as well."
The Colonels treated the fans to a passing clinic at one point, with McCloskey hitting Strothman in stride to start it, before the ball was dished to Meghan Sargent and then Derosia. The hosts also milked the clock on a couple of possessions, with Stent holding the ball outside the circle while Ayotte, Derosia and Sargent made cuts in front of the goal.
Freshman Liz Day struck twice to knot the score at 4-4 with 7:21 left in the first half. And with Sheehan shadowing Lord, O'Neil would take over — hitting her target four times to give the Blackbirds an 8-4 lead with 10:50 to go in the game.
But just like the Mexican Army at the Battle of Puebla 154 years earlier, the hosts weren't about to give up.
The Colonels (3-3) will play at Burr and Burton today.
Brattleboro roster: Coach — Sarah Clark. Players — #2 Morgan Derosia, #3 Olivia Stent, #4 Brianna Ogden, #5 Molly Atamaniuk, #6 Alexandra Livanis, #7 Kira McCloskey, #10 Megyn Ayotte, #12 Ema Baldauf, #14 Susanna Strothman, #15 Breanna Sheehan, #17 Ari Hrabovsky, #19 Sarah Laporte, #21 Emma Rueter, #22 Maddy Lynch, #23 Sara Gauthier, #25 Meghan Sargent, #28 Axis Balsley-Petraska, #31 Liz Day.