Illegal Sticks Result In Unusual Girls’ Lacrosse Game Tie, Then Hawks Defeat Masuk

Published: April 24, 2019 at 12:53 pm


Ties in lacrosse are unusual enough — Newtown High School’s girls’ team hadn’t had one in more than a decade, if ever, before a 9-9 deadlock with visiting Pomperaug of Southbury on a damp April 11 night — but the way in which this game ended up a stalemate is all the more unusual.

First, Pomperaug celebrated what appeared to be a golden goal victory, 1:09 into overtime. But Newtown contended that the Pomperaug scorer had used an illegal stick. An official’s check of the stick revealed that its mesh pocket was deeper than a lacrosse ball, thus making it illegal.

The teams played on, and the game went to a second three-minute extra period. Newtown scored 51 seconds in, but Pomperaug challenged and — once again — a game-winning goal was wiped off the board because of an illegal stick. Neither team scored again, so there were no more stick checks, no more celebrations all for naught. No winner.

“At the end of double overtime, when it’s a tie, it’s almost like two losers instead of two winners. It’s great not to lose, but after 56 minutes of hard-fought battle, it would have been better to have a win,” said Newtown Coach Maura Fletcher, who does not recall a tie in the history of the program dating back to the early 2000s.

The coach had never seen such an odd ending to a game.

“I think it was the humidity of the night really loosened sticks. They had one, we had one. It’s not anything we’ve had a problem with in the past,” Fletcher said. “I was not worried about it because our sticks are checked before the game. We check our sticks every day.”

All of the controversy aside, there was plenty of back-and-forth activity on the field in this South-West Conference matchup. The game was tied five times, with the Panthers scoring with just 56 seconds left to force overtime.

Newtown led 6-4 at the half. Protecting a 9-8 lead, the Nighthawks played keep away for much of the final six-plus minutes of regulation.

“We weren’t really in a full-out stall, but we were trying to keep possession of it,” said Fletcher, adding that her players had the green light to shoot the ball on net if a good enough opportunity presented itself.

The scoring chances piled up early on in this game, with Ali Kelleher, Rylee Harrell, and Shea Murphy all netting three goals. Harrell had two assists, and Kelleher and Keeley Kortze both had one helper.

Attack players Kelleher and Julia Gerace provided strong play and kept pressure on the Panthers with their rides, Fletcher said.

Emma Magazu, Kiera Sughrue, and Colleen Phaneuf were solid on defense.

“I think defense played well today. We transitioned well. We had a couple turnovers on our rides,” Fletcher said.

There may be more ties in Newtown’s near future. There have been more of these close contests within conference play in recent years after Newtown dominated the SWC for several seasons. Newtown has a pair of one-goal victories in conference play thus far.

“Every games’ a grind,” Fletcher said.

Newtown defeated host Masuk of Monroe 11-6 on April 23. Kelleher had three goals. Gerace, Harrell, and Kortze each scored twice, and Gia Corso and Elena Sughrue both had goals.

Harrell had two assists. Kortze and Gerace had four and three ground ball scoops, respectively.

The Nighthawks improved to 6-1-1.

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