BORDENTOWN _ Sage Geyer and all of her Madison teammates wanted to get revenge and hoist the trophy at the conclusion of the Group I final.
There was no joyous celebration, though. Instead, there was much sadness and many players wondering what went wrong in the wake of the Dodgers' 4-3 loss to Haddonfield on Saturday, Nov. 11.
Having a two-goal lead slip away stung. So did the fact that the Dodgers' own comeback fell short. But the pain went beyond that.
"The game was so, so close," said Geyer, a senior center midfielder. "We wanted the championship but that wasn't really even that important. Not being able to play with this team again is the hardest part. We became such good friends... I love all of these girls, freshmen through seniors."
Madison (22-3) didn't want to see that camaraderie and unity end and battled until the very last second. Stunned by Haddonfield's four-goal blitz that left them trailing, 4-2, the Dodgers battled but it wasn't enough. Elizabeth Romano scored the Dodgers' third goal with 2:47 remaining. Madison, of course, hoped to force overtime but the Dawgs stood tall.
The Dodgers were edged by Haddonfield (22-3) for the second consecutive season. Last year, Madison, which graduated a dozen seniors from the squad that claimed the Group II crown in 2015, made an unlikely run to the Group I title game. This time, the Dodgers, seasoned and highly skilled, expected to come out on top and recorded the first two goals just to demonstrate how driven they were.
"It was a great hockey game. It could have gone either way," Madison coach Ann Marie Davies said. "I'm proud of the team. They never gave up. They played hard. It was tough. Haddonfield's a good team. They capitalized on corners and we made a few mistakes. We ran out of time. It is what it is."
Goals by Romano, the standout headed for UConn, and Chase Cmaylo put the Dodgers in front, 2-0. Romano converted 9:16 before halftime assisted by Maddie Farrell. Cmaylo knocked in her goal with 1:32 left in the opening half. Bridget McCormick, a sophomore, put in the first of her three goals 19 seconds before the break to bring the Dawgs within one, 2-1.
McCormick also had the next two goals, drawing Haddonfield even, 2-2, three minutes into the second half and putting them ahead, 3-2, with 14:33 remaining. Sophie Popp then scored off a corner at 8:45. That's when Madison put on a late push. After Romano's second goal, the Dodgers sent two shots wide left in the last two minutes.
"It's not really that we were too confident. Maybe we were too comfortable," said Geyer. "We couldn't hold on. We got sloppy then we were out of time. The third goal was nice. We wanted to tie it and go to overtime."
According to one of Madison's coaches, Clarissa Sacco, Geyer, a three-year starter, played "the game of her life" in the finale of her high school career. Geyer, said Davies, "made very skilled choices" and "played her heart out."
The hat trick by McCormick was her third this fall and Dawgs coach Lindsay Kocher was pleased she came up with a supreme performance at the right time.
"We've been down but not by two goals," Kocher said. "We fight back. That's this team. They're geared to fight until the end. Scoring right before halftime helped us and showed we're still in it. We had 30 minutes more."
Kocher admitted to being a bit on edge after Romano notched her second goal.
"I was a little nervous," Kocher said. "We had to play smart and try to keep the ball away from Romano. She popped two in on us so we stressed playing together. We had to keep going and play smart. It's not over until the final whistle."
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