Panthers Fall in Overtime Thriller Against L-S

Emily jeffries

Emily Jeffries (4) scored a goal and had an assist for Franklin, but the Panthers lost in a controversial overtime game against Lincoln-Sudbury. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
By Josh Perry, Managing Editor
FRANKLIN, Mass. – It is not often that a playoff game comes down to the officials pulling an actual rule book out of a bag under the scorer’s table. Not many tournament fates are decided on the minutiae of the codes of the game but with six seconds remaining in Tuesday’s Div. 1 East semifinal that is exactly what sent the game to overtime.
Franklin had taken a 7-6 lead on a free position goal by sophomore Caroline Lounsbury with just 29 second left to play and was in position to return to the sectional final, but with only six seconds on the clock Lincoln-Sudbury’s Brianna Stokes answered with a free position goal of her own. That is when the controversy began.
The Panthers immediately called for a stick check on Stokes, who reached up and adjusted the strings on her stick. That is an automatic no goal, if it happened after the refs had asked to check the stick, and the refs initially waved off the goal and Franklin appeared to have won.
After huddling on the field for a few minutes and speaking with both coaches, the officials marched to the scorer’s table and pored over the MIAA rule book. After a few minutes of deliberation, the officials said that the adjustment of the strings was before being asked and that the goal stood sending the teams to two 3-minute overtime periods.
“It came down to wording basically,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe. “They said that she adjusted her strings before the ref asked for her stick. So, it came down to wording. Originally the ref said no goal, but then they went to the rule book and checked on that word…it’s tough.”
Franklin took the lead in the first overtime period on a free position goal by sophomore Kendall Reardon, but again L-S found the answering goal this time with 16 seconds remaining in the period. In the second overtime, Franklin won the draw and L-S received a yellow card.
With the player advantage, Franklin decided to hold the ball and try for the last shot and the win. Igoe explained, “We definitely wanted to take the last shot at that point because we had the ball and they had the yellow card, so it’s easy to run out the two minutes. We really just wanted that last shot but it didn’t work out.”
As the clock wound down, the ball was forced into the middle and L-S intercepted and started up field. Junior Katherine Malone, who also scored a hat trick in regulation, found Stokes with just five seconds left to give the Warriors a 9-8 victory that sends them into the final.
“I think everyone is a little disappointed,” said Igoe, “and I think that shows where are program is and we expect to win that game, but it’s sports sometimes the outcome you want doesn’t happen.”
Franklin started the game very well, jumping out to a 5-2 lead and winning six of the first seven draw controls. Emily Jeffries, the Hockomock MVP, opened the scoring from a free position and then found Reardon to make it 2-0.
After a pair of L-S goals tied the game, Emily Spath played a part in three straight goals to give the Panthers back the lead. She assisted on goals by Kenzie Pleshaw and Julia Jette and then cut into the middle and finished one herself.
Igoe said, “I think our girls just came out really hard. The draw was going to the girls in the circle and they just worked really hard and wanted it more in the beginning. That was just hustle.”
A Pleshaw goal just before halftime gave the Panthers a 6-4 lead at the break. In the second half, both teams had long spells of possession with little to show for it. Finally, with 13:16 left, L-S got a goal from Malone to cut the lead to one and two minutes later freshman Izzy Ross beat her defender to tie the game at 6-6.
L-S had a long offensive possession late in the second half, but junior goalie Dani Lonati came through with four of her nine saves to help keep the Panthers level. With the clock winding down, Franklin got the ball back and thought that maybe they had won the game on Lounsbury’s free position until controversy ensued.
“Dani Lonati had like four saves in a row and they would just keep getting the ball back and she came up with big saves,” said Igoe. “At the end we didn’t run what we wanted to run, but just kind of forced it in. It could have gone either way.”
The program continues to develop into perennially one of the best in the state and Igoe will be looking forward to a strong group of returning players to try and take the Panthers back to a sectional championship.
“Our seniors have done so much and we’re really thankful for all that they’ve done for us, but I think this team is hungry,” said Igoe. “I told them after the game that everyone needs to go home and work on their stick work because we just had too many turnovers and we could have won if we took better care of the ball.”
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
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