MONROE — Three times Newington took the lead against Masuk Wednesday afternoon at Benedict Field.
And three times the Panthers found a way to level their Class L second round playoff game.
Given a lifeline in overtime, Kacey Lawerence played the hero for Masuk. Her goal from a nearly-impossible angle secured a 4-3 Panthers’ victory, propelling them into the quarterfinals.
“After each time we tied it, we kept thinking we have to keep coming back,” said Lawrence who finished with two goals and an assist. “It was more motivation to keep going and going.”
No. 6 Masuk advances to play at No. 3 Watertown in the Class L quarterfinals on Friday.
Down 3-2 and with only five minutes remaining in regulation it looked like it might be a quick state tournament run for the Panthers until Emma French found an unmarked Christina Moniz at the edge of the Newington penalty area. Moniz converted the chance to force overtime at 3-3.
“Once we tied it, I felt we had the momentum, but at the same time I knew our big players needed to step up and Kacey is one of our big players,” Masuk coach Jason Golesky said. “She stepped up and finished for us.”
Lawrence did just that midway through the first overtime when she collected the ball om the endline to the right side of goal. The junior managed to squeeze the ball past Newington keeper Jenna Scanlon and tuck it inside the far post.
“That was cutting it close,” said Lawrence, who seconds earlier had been denied by Scanlon on a diving save . “I thought for sure I was going to end up hitting it wide but I focused in and saw where the goalie was and placed it.”
Newington, the No. 11 seed, took the lead 12 minutes in on a goal from Zoe Walk. Masuk (14-4-1) answered 15 minutes later when Lawrence crossed it to Giavanna DeLorenzo for a tap-in at the back post.
Minutes before halftime Newington went ahead 2-1 thanks to Alyse Karanian’s strike from 35-yards out. Again Masuk had an answer, this time with Lawrence pinpointing a free kick into the top left corner from 30 yards six minutes after the restart.
“It’s insane, it’s one of the first times we’ve come back from going down, so it’s a great motivator for us,” Lawerence said.
Reagan Pelton gave Newington a 3-2 lead, finishing from outside the box in the 55th minute. Up a goal, Newington had numerous chances to finish it. Olivia Mullings broke in on goal, but Masuk keeper Maddie Kobza stopped the attempt and kept her team in the game.
The save helped set up the late heroics from Moniz and later Lawrence.
“To be honest, being up three times I’d expect us to finish off the game and win,” Newington coach Adam Wilkinson said. “A player of (Lawrence’s) quality, even a half chance, can come back to punish you and that’s what she did. I wouldn’t even claim that was a half chance, it was a quarter chance. She just buried it in. It was a great finish.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kacey Lawrence, Masuk. The junior scored two incredible goals and set up another in the Panthers come from behind 4-3 victory.
“Kacey is a one in a million player right there. She’s a player coaches love to have on their team. At any moment she can create goals like that for you.” — Masuk coach Jason Golesky on junior standout Kacey Lawrence.
MASUK 4, NEWINGTON 3
NEWINGTON 2 1 0 0—3
MASUK 1 2 1 0—4
Records: Newington 11-5-2; Masuk 14-4-1
Goals: N—Zoe Walk, Alyse Karanian, Reagan Pelton; M—Kacey Lawrence 2, Giavanna DeLorenzo, Christina Moniz; Assists: N—Olivia Mullings, M—Lawrence, Emma French; Goalies: N—Jenna Scanlon (6 saves); M—Maddie Kobza (4)