Gilford freshman Abby Reera scored the game-winning goal to lead the Eagles past Laconia, 14-13, in overtime on May 17. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
May 21, 2012LACONIA – Nine-tenths of a second. That's how long Abby Reera had to lift her Gilford High School girls' lacrosse team to a win on May 17.
The freshman scored arguably the biggest goal of the season for the Lady Eagles, as she took a free position with just 0.9 seconds on the clock in the second of two overtimes against rival Laconia High School in a tie game. Reera managed to get her shot off and into the back of the net as time expired, setting off a wild celebration as Gilford won its third game of the season, 14-13, to sweep the season series with the Sachems in Division III action.
"You need to have a really quick release in a situation like that," said Gilford coach Jillian Egan. "Abby's just a freshman but she saved the day for us with that one."
It was a game filled with momentum streaks, as Laconia scored the game-tying goal with just 1:24 left in regulation to send things to overtime tied at 12-12.
While neither team scored in the first of two mandatory three-minute OTs, the Sachems broke the tie with what appeared likely to be the game-winner with 1:24 remaining in double overtime. Stormy Leroux scored her seventh goal of the afternoon to put Laconia on top, 13-12.
But Gilford (3-9) had an answer in the form of Gabi Defregger. The junior midfielder scooped up the ball after a faceoff win by Alex Harris, and she sprinted down the field with her eyes fixed on the goal. Defregger placed a perfect shot to the far post, beating Laconia goalkeeper Jenny Russell to tie the game at 13-13 just 11 seconds after Leroux put the hosts on top.
"Gabi got down the field right away and it was important that we scored as quickly as possible," said Egan.
That set the stage for Reera, as she was fouled after Gilford maintained possession for most of the final minute of action. With sudden death overtime looming, the freshman buried a shot low to secure the victory, 14-13.
"This was a big win for us," said Egan. "Our team definitely wanted to win three games this year."
It was a back and forth affair all afternoon long, as the teams pretty much traded goals for the entire first half with Laconia clinging to a 6-5 lead at intermission.
The Eagles came out firing in the second half however, as Hannah Vachon (twice), Cassidy Demo, Harris and Amanda Marando all scored to open up the frame. The five consecutive goals put Gilford on top 10-6 with 17:19 left in regulation.
"We didn't start off the game playing as intense as I would have liked but Laconia kind of forced us to be more intense and we responded at the beginning of that second half," Egan explained.
Vachon would score two more goals in the second half to give her a team-high five on the day, and things looked good with the team ahead 12-9 with 6:17 to play.
"She's been our top scorer all year," said Egan of Vachon. "She's been a go-to player for us. She wants to score and you can see it on the field with the way she plays the game."
But with time winding down, Laconia pulled things together and struck for three consecutive goals the rest of the way, as Tori Holmes got the equalizer with 1:24 left to send things to overtime.
"We just had a game like this the other day against Merrimack Valley where we lost in the second overtime," recalled Egan of her team's 18-17 loss on May 14. "So the girls were ready for it and luckily we came out on top this time."
It was the second time Gilford picked up a win over Laconia this season, with the other coming via a 13-7 win on April 17. The Eagles won their first-ever varsity game against the Sachems in 2011, with this most recent win marking their third straight over Laconia. The three wins this season were the most in the three-year history of the varsity program.
"These games are fun," said Egan of the Laconia contests. "The girls get to learn a lot when they play a team that is around the same level and they get this new drive when it's a competitive game like this was."
Defregger, Marando, Emily Parker, Vachon and Kathryn Andrews all scored goals for the Eagles in the first half, with Harris picking up a nice assist on Andrews' man up tally to tie the game 5-5 with 6:31 left before halftime.