Pyhel did her part, batting the ball down with her glove, to put the finishing touches on fourth-seeded Chatham's 3-2 victory over fifth-seeded Madison in a North Jersey Section 1, Group II quarterfinal.
Actually, there was one more thing to be done. Maurillo hugged her good friend, McCabe, the premier goalie in Morris County, and said she was sorry.
"I was happy but felt pretty bad," said Maurillo, who had three goals for the Cougars. "Caroline and I practiced together in my yard over the summer. After I told her I was sorry, I said 'Good game.'"
Maurillo, a senior center forward, had to "change things up" after McCabe knocked away her stroke in the first round of the one and ones. That's why Maurillo, the first stroker for Chatham in the second round of the shootout, went higher with her shot. She also put a penalty stroke past McCabe with four minutes remaining in regulation, flicking the ball into the left side of the goalcage to put the Cougars up, 2-1.
"I kind of wanted the game to go to a shootout," Maurillo said. "I never did it. I thought it would be pretty cool. I had confidence in the team."
The Cougars' Megan Palmisano was the first player to step to the hash mark in the shootout. Palmisano went left and connected. Madison's Tori Ellis was next and she, too, converted, firing a shot to the upper right. Chatham missed before Rachel Alvey notched the Dodgers' second stroke. Four strokes, two on each side, were saved or went wide.
Then Kit Whiteman, reluctant when told she was going to be one of the strokers, sent a slow-rolling ball into the right side to even it up, 2-2, for Chatham. Pyhel followed with a split save to force a second round. The goal was the first for Whiteman, a top-notch defender at center back.
"Everyone goes high left and it looks beautiful," said Whiteman, a junior. "I just prayed it would go in. I can't really lift it so I hoped the Madison goalie wouldn't see it coming. I'm sure she expected a better stroke. Taking that shot was terrifying for me."
Although Whiteman didn't want to be put in an uncomfortable offensive situation, she's accustomed to being under pressure. Whiteman and the Cougars lacrosse team claimed the Group II title and went all the way to the Tournament of Champions semifinal.
Pyhel, as well, was on edge about the shootout. She made eight saves over the first 80 minutes and three in the shootout.
"There are no words to describe how I felt," said Pyhel, a first-year starter. "I was excited. Nervous. Confident."
Her split save was exceptional.
"I just had to focus on the ball," she said. "I had a feeling where it would go and I had to maintain my position. The ball came right at me."
Chatham coach Jeremy Heinze, of course, knew the importance of Pyhel's effort in the shootout, stating that "she came through in a huge way for us."
With 1:34 left in the first overtime, Pyhel was under fire and made two solid saves. One shot caromed off her chest protector.
Chatham (16-4-1) got on the scoreboard first when Maurillo scored assisted by Bridget McNally 5:07 into the first half.
Sophomore Skyler Oates evened the score for Madison (16-4) by driving the ball into the goalcage from the top of the circle 10:06 before halftime. Alvey was credited with the assist.
The second half featured high drama as each team had a stretch when they were awarded a series of corners. Chatham, for example, had four consecutive corners in a span of 1:17 beginning at 19:13. McCabe, headed to the University of Richmond, handled the flurry well, going down to make one of the saves.
When Maurillo got her second goal off a penalty stroke with four minutes left to pull in front, 2-1, the Cougars were feeling good. However, it wasn't over as the Dodgers were awarded a corner with no time left. Lexi Dellavia, a junior, took advantage of the opportunity and knocked in a pass from Michelle Montagna.
The pace of the game seemed to quicken in the OTs as each team pushed hard for a goal. The goalies stayed busy, handling multiple shots.
Thirty-seven seconds into the second extra period, Maurillo, bound for Quinnipiac, sent a shot off the left post. At the midway point of the second OT, Maurillo dribbled into the circle and McCabe came out of the cage. Ellis got her stick on the ball and swept it out to the left.
West Essex, the top seed, will play host to Chatham in a sectional semifinal on Saturday at 2 p.m.
It will be a homecoming for Maurillo, who formerly lived in Fairfield and would've gone to West Essex, a state field hockey power for decades. The Knights feature Maurillo's cousin, Natalie Cafone, and friend, Adrianna Farina.
"I'll be going back to my old town," Maurillo said. "I'm psyched to play them. It's fun to play my cousin and Adrianna was one of my neighbors. I'm excited."
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