The Golden Eagles put in a dominating effort during a pressure-packed second half but couldn't put the ball in the net in Madison's 1-0 triumph in MCT action on Sunday, Oct. 9.
An awkward, twisting goal by the Dodgers' Catherine Zimmerman late in the first half held up and goalkeeper Meg Calcaterra made 11 saves, including several frenetic ones in the final seconds, to help the sixth-seeded Dodgers advance. Madison will play Mendham, a 1-0 victor over Parsippany Hills, in the quarterfinals next week.
"It means a lot,'' Zimmerman said. "We're all really excited to move on to the next level.''
The contest, a nailbiter all the way, was a big win for Madison. Even though they were seeded higher, the Dodgers know they have to earn victories against traditional winners like the Golden Eagles, who play in the competitive National Division of the NJAC, in order to have their tournament run taken seriously.
"We were concerned with everybody,'' Calcaterra said. "There were a lot of great players on their team. We just had to watch all of them. They were a lot of good individuals and they played well together.''
Zimmerman, who is attending Providence College and playing Big East soccer next fall, was in the minds of all the Golden Eagles defenders. They did not want her to touch the ball. Even though the senior forward has been very unselfish, she recognizes those games in which she needs to step up her play.
"These are her kind of games,'' Lynott said. "You want her to come up in the big moment and she did.''
Her goal wasn't pretty but it was effective. Zimmerman was about 15 yards out when she spun on the ball, right-footing it to the left corner of the net while falling backwards. She hit it with enough force to elude the Golden Eagles' defenders and goalie Ann George.
"I think it was a good corner from Katie (McCarter),'' Zimmerman said. "The ball was just bouncing around. I think Natalie Wynne just got a touch and I kind of turned a defender and just wrapped my foot around it.
"It was really important to come out and score on them. It showed them that we were going to battle the whole time.''
From that moment on, the Golden Eagles used constant pressure to tie the game. Morris Knolls spent most of its time in the offensive end with Maeve Krueger and Emma Coccia serving volley after volley, Gianna Vitolo making penetrating runs and Shannon Gleeson launching long throws into the box. But the Dodgers defense held.
"All of the defense had to stay on the ball (Rebecca Levin. Jill Lennon, Katie Von Der Linde Siobhon McCulloch),'' Calcaterra said. "We all had to communicate and talk to each other. A couple of times I kicked a through ball. A couple of times Rebecca and Siobhon just turned it outside.''
Lynott also challenged the Madison defense to be strong and confident and stand its ground.
"We knew they were good and, if we didn't stand up physically with the intensity they have, then they would run right through us,'' Lynott said. "You have to stand up and be counted. We told them at halftime that you are in for an even tougher 40 minutes than you were in the first. It's a hot day and you will get physically tired but you have to stand up. I thought my team did that today.''
Morris Knolls battled until the end, especially in the final seconds, when Calcaterra knocked down three shots, including two at close range, in a wild scramble in front of the Madison net.
"Those last 20 seconds were the most stressful part of my entire life,'' Calcaterra said. "We didn't know how much time was left in the game. I just knew that I had to keep the ball out and I had to save it. It was bam, bam, bam.''