Murray's overtime goal lifts Staples past Ludlowe
FAIRFIELD -- With the ball in her lacrosse stick in the final minute of a tie game in overtime, Staples senior midfielder Paige Murray looked to make a play to a teammate to set up a potential game-winning goal.
Although the pass misfired, Murray got the ball back with even less time to make something happen. This time she took matters into her own hands and went straight for the cage.
Weaving her way through the Ludlowe defense, Murray delivered the decisive blow with 18.3 seconds left with a shot into the goal that sent Staples to a 13-12 overtime win against the Falcons on Saturday.
"It was in the moment," Murray said. "Once my team got the ball back (behind the net); I was so fortunate to have those girls get the ball back. All of us worked together and played together as a team."
The teams were tied at 12 after regulation, which resulted in two 3-minute overtime sessions. Staples' Christine Taylor won both draws to start the periods, and the one after Murray's goal to run out the clock.
Taylor also scored a hat trick for the Wreckers while Murray scored four times. Siobhan O'Loughlin also added a hat trick for Staples (2-0), which defeated Danbury 15-4 in its season opener on Wednesday.
"It was a lot of pressure because the game was very close towards the end," Taylor said. "We needed the draw in order to get down the field and run out the clock or score. I had a lot of confidence any one of us would get to draw, boxing out or ground balls."
The teams, which battled to a 13-13 tie in 2013, were equally matched again Saturday. Ludlowe got out to an early 5-2 lead in a wild first half before Staples closed the gap and took a 9-8 lead into the halftime break.
"Ludlowe is a very good team and they are going to have a great year," Staples coach Pete Najarian said. "For us to go down 5-2 and come back and sneak out an overtime win is great for our group. We can build on that and this was a good win against a very good team."
Both teams slowed down considerably in the second half, valuable possession and spending time in the offensive zone. Ludlowe had a spell of possession for five minutes midway through the second half, scoring twice to tie the game at 11. The teams traded goals inside the final 10 minutes before overtime.
Staples goalie Alexa Moro made a crucial stop on Ludlowe's Regan Steed, who scored five times for Ludlowe, with 2:29 left in regulation. Staples took control following the save, but couldn't score before overtime.
"The second half was evenly-matched," Ludlowe coach Heather Lewsey said. "We had a feeling coming into this game it would be decided by a goal or two, and it was; just not in our favor."
Steed starred in all three zones for the Falcons. In addition to taking all but one draw, she was a crucial part of the Ludlowe defense that keyed in on Murray. Steed, who has committed to Columbia, only started playing lacrosse as a freshman and has quickly become one of the best players in the league.
"(Steed is) amazing; from the draw to her defense to her attack," Lewsey said. "She's phenomenal; she's a leader on the field in every capacity. This is her year where she's breaking out."
Miranda Rosenfeld scored four times for Ludlowe, which fell 11-5 to Darien on Wednesday. Performing well in two tests against two of the top teams in the FCIAC should provide confidence to the Falcons.
"It gives us a lot of confidence," Lewsey said. "Coming into the season we talked about a team-first mentality, but we also knew after losing a lot of players it might take time to develop. Even though we are 0-2 we did a lot of good things against two good programs."
STAPLES 9 3 1 -- 13
LUDLOWE 8 4 0 -- 12
Records: Staples 2-0, 2-0 FCIAC; Fairfield Ludlowe 0-2, 0-2. Scoring: S--Abby Najarian (1g), Sam Kratky (1g), Paige Murray (4g, 1a), Christine Taylor (3g), Colleen Bannon (1g, 1a), Siobhan O'Loughlin (3g). FL--Regan Steed (5g, 2a), Mary Edmonds (1g, 2a), Meg Donahue (1g), Miranda Rosenfeld (4g, 1a), Emily Demaso (1g) Goalies: S--Alexa Moro (7 saves); FW--Grace Flink (10 saves).