Jeremy Beardsley and the Montgomery High School girls soccer team will live to see one more day.
After seeing Lenape score a game-tying goal with less than eight minutes left in regulation, senior forward Colby Ciarrocca came up in a big way in overtime for the Cougars.
Ciarrocca headed in a beauty of a ball for the golden goal in the 85th minute as Montgomery defeated South Jersey power Lenape in the Group IV semifinals for a second straight season, this time 2-1, and will look to defend their Group IV title against Skyland Conference foe Bridgewater-Raritan on Saturday at The College of New Jersey at 12:30 p.m.
“Colby Ciarrocca’s a superstar, and that’s what superstars do,” said Beardsley, who is stepping down at the end of the season after 15 years. “We play a ball into the box and she just finds it. She’s as good in the air as anyone in the state and just flicks that on to perfection and the rest is history.”
Ciarocca got her head on the ball after teammate Katherine Lynch sent a well-placed ball into the box off a tap from Lindsay Epstein on a free kick from 33 yards out.
“It was a great ball in by Katherine and I just knew I had to try to get something on it,” Ciarrocca said.
Lenape had won five consecutive Group IV titles before Montgomery put an end to that streak last season.
“Lenape’s a great program, a championship program, but so are we,” said Beardsley. “We’ve been doing some pretty darn good things and so there’s no fear and you saw that today.”
Montgomery (15-4-2) appeared poised to hang on for a 1-0 win on behalf of senior forward Jessi Goldman’s strike from 22 yards out in the 31st minute, but Lenape wouldn’t let down.
Junior Marissa Topolski scored off her own rebound for the Indians in the 73rd minute to tie the game 1-1, as Lenape moved a defender, Courtney Norton, into the midfield to try to make a final push.
“Lenape took a great risk because they went to a three-back and Jessi and Colby were carving up their back three all game, they had a tough time with them,” Beardsley said. “We knew they were going to have one final push. We were confident, but didn’t think it was going to be easy, we knew it was going to be hard because we have so much respect for their program.”
Beardsley now will try to get some sleep in the next few days before his final game as coach on Saturday, though it will be a challenge for him, as his wife gave birth to their third child, a baby boy, at 3 a.m. Friday morning prior to their win over Hunterdon Central for the Central Group IV final that same day at 1 p.m.
“This is going to make the next couple of days even crazier, it’s been a whirlwind,” Beardsley said. “All these championship moments and to go to TCNJ in another Group IV final, we were blessed to get there last year and add in the fact that this is my final year, I get to go all the way to the Group IV final with this group one more time, I’m just privileged and blessed to be their coach.”