Jessica Dahldorf wasn’t trying to beat the clock, but she was trying to use it to her advantage.
The Poly Prep junior had her eye on the scoreboard as the whistle blew and she headed for goal from 20 yards outs along the right sideline with a tie score and 5.3 seconds left in double overtime.
“I was trying to time it just right,” the Northwestern-bound midfielder said. “I was trying to hit it at two seconds, just so that draw would be with one second.”
Dahldorf did one better.
With her right ankle reinjured earlier and still throbbing, she ran past the Riverdale defense and veered right of the cage. As her shot beat Falcons goalie Brittany Brown to the left corner, the buzzer sounded and cheers engulfed the field. Dahldorf’s goal, her fourth of the game, gave Poly an emotional, 15-14 win over previously unbeaten Riverdale in both teams’ Ivy League girls lacrosse finale on May 16 in Bay Ridge.
It also marks the first time many of the players have beaten Riverdale, which won the first meeting 18-8. Kayla Metelenis scored five times and added two assists and Sam Domurat had three goals for Poly Prep.
“I just saw an open corner,” said Dahldorf, who also won numerous key faceoffs. “I just said, ‘Hey, if I miss we go into overtime and its sudden death.’ If I make it, it’s a hell of a win.”
The victory is the seventh straight for the Blue Devils (9-3), who placed third in the division. They beat both Riverdale (11-1) and second-place Hackley during the string of victories. The young and inexperienced team when the year started is peaking at the right time.
“The whole time we were thinking this is our day, this is our day,” Domurat said. “We are going to beat Riverdale. We have this. We are not going to let them go undefeated. We just can’t.”
Both teams played with steely will in the final minutes of regulation and into overtime. Riverdale, which trailed by a goal at the half, grabbed a 9-6 lead when a shot by Lindsay Picard (four goals) deflected off Poly keeper AnaLisa Westfield (22 saves) and rolled into the cage with 12:51 left in regulation. Poly responded by tallying five of the next six goals to grab an 11-10 advantage with 42.4 seconds remaining.
“We are used to this,” said Blue Devils coach Anni Zukauskas, who leaped into the arms of assistant Terry Densen after the win. “This is Poly lacrosse. … Riverdale hasn’t seen a fight yet this season. Our girls are ready to go.”
Domurat scored the next two. After one of Zoe Loveman’s three tallies for Riverdale, Dahldorf bounced one in. Domurat scored and Metelenis ran past a defender to give Poly the lead after Riverdale led 10-8 with 5:38 remaining. Madeline Hopper scored off the rebound of a Katherine Coles shot to tie the score at 11 with 23.6 seconds left, sending the game to overtime.
“From Day One, [Coach] is like there is no such thing as too little time,” Domurat said. “There is no such thing as too big a lead.”
The Falcons opened the first three-minute overtime with a goal from Zoe Michas, but Poly scored the next three, including a Kailin Twomey goal with 1.2 seconds on the clock to go ahead 14-12. Riverdale tied things at 14 with 21.7 remaining in the second extra session on goals from Loveman and Coles.
The game appeared headed to sudden death when a cross-field pass to Mary Kate Nolan began rolling near the sideline, but Ali Hyman was called for playing the ball from out of bounds and the ball — and a chance to win — was given to Poly and Dahldorf.
“That’s why she is going to Northwestern and that’s the truth,” Zukauskas said. “She should want that ball. She should have the confidence to take that shot.”
It provided a win and moment that will be burned into the memories of everyone associated with the Poly Prep team.
“Oh forever, man,” Dahldorf said. “Forever.”