By Jean DePlacido
---- — BEVERLY — Gordon College captain Karli Balmer made a great run down the right sideline, and sent the ball across the crease. It bounced off the post and into the back of the net for the winning goal with 8:29 remaining in the sudden death first overtime on Play For the Cure Day at Endicott’s North Field. The Gulls wore hot pink socks, and there were banners supporting the fight against breast cancer.
Grace Fabry was ready for the tip in at the left corner of the net, but Balmer’s shot found it’s mark for a thrilling come from behind 3-2 victory for the Fighting Scots, who trailed by two goals until Fabry scored on a tip in with 12 seconds left in the first half to cut the deficit to 2-1.
“That goal was huge at the end of the half because it gave us energy,” said Gordon coach Cory Ward after his team improved to 13-4 overall and 8-2 in the CCC. “There’s a big difference between being down 2-0 and 2-1. We are a second half team, and we came out strong.
“I think the biggest difference was our conditioning. We were able to maintain possession and take good shots in that half. What a great move by Balmer to win it.”
Both teams had excellent chances to in overtime. Endicott threatened early when Mackenzie Hurst, who has four game winning goals, got by defenders to go in alone. Gordon goalie Anna Bury came way out of her net to break up the play.
“Our goalie made a huge diving save on that breakaway,” said Ward. “She was very strong all game, but this was a team win. We know we’re in the playoffs, but we’re still fighting to nail down that No. 2 seed so we can host a game. This is the first time we’ve been undefeated against both Salem State and Endicott during the regular season which is big for the North Shore Cup.”
Endicott had a lot of chances in the first half, outshooting Gordon, 12-8. Emily Sawchuck increased her team lead in goals to 12 after getting both of the Gulls goals. The first came at 16:41 off a corner. Bury made two big kick saves, but Sawchuck tipped Alyssa Clark’s rebound past her in a scramble out front.
Four minutes later Sawchuck scored again in a jam in front of Bury when she lifted a rebound of Kathryn Walker’s shot into the top left corner of the net. Gordon was awarded a penalty stroke a minute later, but Lizetta Solarik made a big save on Gordon’s leading scorer Courtney Scott.
“We played a great first half,” said Endicott coach Jodi Cipolla, her team now 7-9 overall and 4-5 in the conference. The Gulls are still fighting for a playoff berth. “Sawchuck had two beautiful goals, and both Solarik and Emily O’Halloran were strong on defense. This was a good battle, and they capitalized on a couple of offensive opportunities to win it.
“We didn’t give them anything easy; we fought hard all the way. Gordon is having a great year, and they built up momentum in that second half that carried over.”
Gordon dominated the second half with a 13-1 advantage in shots, and kept the pressure on Solarik the entire time. O’Halloran received a five minute yellow card, and the Gulls were shorthanded.
Gordon tied it up on freshman Abigail Sensing’s first goal. She took a great pass from Balmer with 9:02 remaining in regulation. Balmer came close to getting the game winner six minutes later when she broke in alone and fired a hard shot that hit the post to Solarik’s right.
For the Gulls Kristen O’Brien had two defensive saves, and Clark had one.