EGG HARBOR TWP.
Over her four-plus decades of coaching, Claudia McCarthy has picked up a keen sense of when games are about to turn in a different direction.
Despite her team dominating long stretches of Thursday’s game and holding a 1-0 lead late in the second half, the veteran coach was nervous that the momentum was on the verge of switching.
Unfortunately for the Millville High School field hockey team, McCarthy’s intuition turned out to be right.
The Thunderbolts surrendered a tying goal with just under 11 minutes to play in regulation, then watched host Egg Harbor Township walk off with a 2-1 overtime victory, scoring the winning tally just 75 seconds into the extra period of the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference game.
“I knew it,” McCarthy said after the game. “We had so many opportunities to get that second goal, but never got it. We needed to score that goal.”
It was a frustrating loss for the Thunderbolts (7-3-1), who were 3-0 in games decided by one goal before Thursday.
“I don’t even know what happened, this is tough,” junior Corrine Etter said. “We just have to come back (Friday) and just play with more heart and determination. We have to play for us.”
Millville, which will host Hammonton today at 4 p.m., was excited to play its only game of the year on artificial turf on Thursday.
While the fast surface was foreign to some of the Thunderbolts, the players looked right at home, quickly moving the ball around and keeping Egg Harbor Township in a chasing mode.
“We were really looking forward to this because it’s our only game on turf,” Etter said. “You can do so much more with the ball that you can’t do on grass. All the pulls are smoother. You can do the tricks and lifts that you can’t on grass. It’s a much better game.”
Julia Limbeck gave Millville a 1-0 lead midway through the first half when she tipped in an Etter blast on a corner play. It was Limbeck’s sixth goal of the season.
The Thunderbolts held a 10-1 advantage in shots and a 14-1 advantage in corners when McCarthy nervously strolled close to the scorer’s table.
“I don’t like this,” she said. “I don’t like these one-goal games where we dominate.”
McCarthy’s fears would come true about five minutes later. After Millville dodged a bullet when EHT missed on a penalty stroke, the Eagles connected on the next scoring opportunity when Courtney Richard scored out of a scramble with 10:54 left.
In the 7-v-7 sudden-death overtime period, EHT scored on its only shot when Lauren Angello fired home the decisive goal.
Etter’s polished skills shined bright on the turf, but she also found out the surface can be painful too.
Millville’s leading scorer had several collisions, including one with the EHT goalie, that caused her to hit the deck. The junior finished the game with a sore right shoulder and a turf burn.