The New Oxford girls’ lacrosse team wasn’t supposed to provide a test for Hershey in Thursday’s District 3-3A quarterfinal.
After all, the Trojans came in seeded No. 1 compared to the Colonials at No. 8. Hershey is a tradition-rich program, while New Oxford picked up its first postseason win in program history on Tuesday, and the Trojans came in off a bye while the Colonials were playing their second game in three nights.
The problem, however, is that no one seemed to tell all of this to New Oxford. The Colonials came within a shot off the post by Morgan Sauter with 15 seconds remaining of taking Hershey to overtime, narrowly falling by an 8-7 scoreline.
“That was the number one seed and to me we won that game,” Colonials’ coach Jessica McIntyre said afterward. “We had a few unlucky shots that just didn’t sink in. We had some calls that should’ve gone our way a little bit more, but these girls played their hearts out. I’m beyond words to say how proud I am of this team.”
McIntyre has spoken all year long about the Colonials’ need to get past the name on the jersey when playing more accomplished opponents. Safe to say that wasn’t an issue against Hershey (17-0).
New Oxford (13-4) won the opening face off and controlled possession for much of the first three minutes before Katana Nelson put the hosts up 1-0 against the run of play in the fifth minute. The Trojans doubled that lead on a darting run and goal by Caroline Glus, the first of her six tallies on the night, just three minutes later.
But the Colonials then began to settle back in. Goalie Morgan Scott made a big save, one of her 13 on the night, leading to a counter-attack that was capped by an Ally Mathis goal to make it 2-1 with 13:18 left in the opening half. Just 20 seconds later, Bethany Cohee found a cutting Hannah ZImmer, who fired home to tie the game.
“They are such a rebound team,” McIntyre said. “I mean, these girls know how to bounce back. They know how to handle adversity and they just want it so bad.”
Moments later, Glus shifted momentum back into the hands of the Trojans once again, scoring a pair of goals within 90 seconds of game time to make it 4-2 with 9:05 in the half.
The score remained that way until Mathis, a sophomore, tallied her second of the night with 3:52 to play to cut the deficit back to one.
“She stepped up in a huge way tonight,” McIntyre said of Mathis. “She’s not normally a draw-control type of player and she had six of ‘em tonight. She was extremely confident and comfortable out there tonight and she knew we were counting on her.”
Glus pushed the lead back out to 5-3 with 1:39 left in the half, but the Colonials closed the half with a flurry. First, it was Cohee finding Hailey Linebaguh in front of the net to make it 5-4 with 1:15 remaining, then captain Eryn Little found a cutting Zimmer to tie it up with under 30 seconds remaining in the half. The goal marked the 100th of Zimmer’s career.
“That was insane. I got goosebumps after it happened,” Zimmer said of the milestone. “I ran over to Eryn and she picked me up and it was just a moment that I will never forget.”
The pace of the game slowed significantly in the early parts of the second half, which seemed to favor the slightly more-composed hosts.
Elle Pedaci put Hershey back on top just three minutes into the half before Glus doubled the lead with yet another solo effort to make it 7-5 with 18:46 to play. When Glus scored her sixth, making it 8-5 with 15:46 to play, it appeared the end was drawing near for New Oxford.
But the Colonials refused to go down without a fight.
Mathis completed her hat trick with 8:15 to play to cut it to 8-6 and breathe life back into the New Oxford sideline. Four minutes later, she broke into the area and found Zimmer, who delivered from close range and suddenly it was a one-goal game with 4:33 left on the clock, forcing the Trojans into a timeout.
“They left it all out on that field,” McIntyre said. “They emptied their tank. They dug deep. They played with such composure and class.”
As the clock began to wind down, the Colonials saw a few chances go begging before going up a man with 1:54 to play on a foul by Nelson that saw her carded.
With 15 seconds remaining and New Oxford in possession, the ball came to senior midfielder Satuer. She shuffled right and fired a low shot past Hershey goalie Annie Bravacos. Unfortunately for the Colonials, the post was in the way. The ball drilled the bottom of the left post and shot back across the goal line, refusing to go in. Hershey then cleared the area and held on to advance to next Tuesday’s semifinal against No. 5 South Western.
“I thought it was in,” Zimmer said of the shot. “I couldn’t believe when it hit the post and rolled back out.”
Zimmer, Scott, Little and a host of Colonials players will graduate and move on with their careers now, but the 100-goal scorer says the program is in good hands.
“I’m going to miss them a lot, but I believe a bunch of girls are going to step up,” Zimmer said. “They all just need to step up, and I have no worries.”
Hershey 8, New Oxford 7
New Oxford 5 2 — 7
Hershey 5 3 — 8
Goals: NO-Hannah Zimmer 3, Ally Mathis 3, Hailey Linebaugh; H-Caroline Glus 6, Katana Nelson, Elle Pedaci. Assists: NO-Bethan Cohee 2, Eryn Little 1; H-Pedaci. Shots: NO-17; H-21. Saves: NO-Morgan Scott 13, Annie Bravacos 6.