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WEST LONG BRANCH -- With a historic win just one goal away, it was only fitting the fate of Shore Regional was in the hands of one of the school's all-time greats.

All alone in the middle of the field, star senior midfielder Doug Goldsmith raced over the restraining line before expertly dishing to his brother, freshman attackman Gil Goldsmith, who scored 29 seconds into overtime to give the eighth-seeded Blue Devils a heart-pounding 12-11 overtime victory over ninth-seeded Jackson Liberty in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament on Friday at Feeney Field.

It is Shore's first Shore Conference Tournament victory in program history.

"You can't even dream about this stuff," Gil Goldsmith said. "It's honestly surreal. I couldn't have imagined this coming into today."

"When I passed it to him I was like, 'he better finish this'," Doug Goldsmith said. "He hit it inside pipe and it was the best feeling in the world."

The Blue Devils (11-4) will meet the winner of Saturday's game between top-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven and No. 16 Point Boro in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

To earn their first ever SCT victory, the Blue Devils had to dig deep in the second half and again in the extra session. Shore rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits to take an 11-10 lead on a goal by freshman attackman Jake Turner with 4:17 left, but Jackson Liberty (10-5) was able to tie the score in the closing seconds.

Shore gained possession and called timeout with 30.8 seconds left, but was called for a dead-ball foul after the whistle, which gave possession back to the Lions. Off the ensuing restart, Jackson Liberty senior attackman Tyler Kalmowitz curled around the net and fired in his third goal of the game, this one with just 6.9 seconds left in regulation, to send the game to overtime.

Shore hasn't faired well in overtime over the years, including losses to Toms River North and Freehold Township this season. Jackson Liberty seemed to have all the momentum, plus a big advantage in the face-off circle with senior Christian Pongracz since Shore's starting FOGO, senior Michael Lithgow, had to exit the game early in the first half.

"Going into overtime it was like, oh God, we haven't won one overtime in the history of lacrosse here, but this has got to be it," Doug Goldsmith said. "It's the biggest stage, on our home field for the Shore Conference Tournament. We had to get the win."

"Before the game the captains said we need to show some heart for Shore lacrosse," said senior midfielder Jack Britton. We said it again before overtime."

Pongracz won the draw to start overtime, picked up the ground ball and raced into the Shore zone. He weaved his way through the defense and was surveying the field for a lane to pass or shoot when Britton made the defensive play of the game, coming from behind to get a stick on Pongracz's crosse and knock the ball to the turf. Junior LSM Ean Delehanty picked up the ground ball, and it eventually ended up in the crosse of Britton.

"I heard, 'Look up! Look up!' right when I picked my head up," Britton said.

The bench was screaming to get the ball to Doug Goldsmith, who was standing by himself just inside the midfield line.

"Right when I was about to throw it I felt someone on my back." Britton said. "I knew I had to get rid of it. Just like me and Doug in football, when he gets into the open field he's gone. Then he got it to his brother. It was the Goldsmith connection."

The Jackson Liberty defense collapsed toward the goal as Goldsmith moved forward, faking to his left before finding his brother all alone on the crease. Gil Goldsmith finished off the thrilling win by tucking a shot just inside the right post and over the stick of Liberty goalie Chris Mulholland, setting off a wild celebration for the biggest win in program history.

"There were two middies like 10 yards ahead of me and neither of them started running," Doug Goldsmith said. "It was the perfect picture. I've always dreamed of getting that game-winning goal, but passing it to my brother was even better."

"You want the ball in the hands of your playmakers at the end of the game, and that's why Jack Britton is out there and why Doug Goldsmith is out there," said Shore head coach Gregg Malfa. "They don't leave the field, and would rather be dragged off than leave it to someone else."

Doug Goldsmith finished with a game-high eight points on three goals and five assists, while Britton added three goals and three assists. Senior attackman Ryan Morris had a hat trick, Gil Goldsmith scored twice and Turner had one goal. Doug Goldsmith also had a team-best 11 ground balls while Britton had eight and Delahanty had seven. Senior goalie Hunter Avallone made 10 saves.

Kalmowitz and Pongracz each scored three times for Jackson Liberty. Senior attackman Matt Ferullo scored twice and Max Matthies, Dylan O'Connor and Randy Vengen each tallied once. Senior LSM Chris Stefanowicz had a game-high 12 ground balls and Mulholland made 12 saves.

It was a tight game from the start with neither team holding more than a two-goal lead at any point. Doug Goldsmith started the scoring with an unassisted goal at 11:41, but Matthies tied the score at 10:05. Britton scored unassisted at 3:10, then set up Morris 30 seconds later to give the Blue Devils a 3-1 lead. Kalmowitz scored his first off the ensuing face-off to make it 3-2, but Doug Goldsmith scored off a pass from Britton while Shore was a man down for a 4-2 lead after the first quarter.

A major turning point came late in the first quarter when Lithgow had to leave the game. The senior had been out the last three days with food poisoning, and tried to give it a go before having to exit the game.

"He came back today but wasn't feeling well at all," Malfa said. "We tried him out in the beginning and it was a tough decision to pull him. He's a senior so he was disappointed. He not only gave us what he could, but we wouldn't be in this position without him."

Pongracz now had a big edge, and he used that to win the first two face-offs of the second quarter clean before going right down and scoring to tie the game at four. Ferullo scored unassisted two minutes later to give Liberty a 5-4 lead.

"We had to change the dynamics of the face-offs because he was winning them clean and going right down, and we weren't sliding correctly," Malfa said. "We had to stop the momentum. We put in (senior defenseman) Erik Graham and he did a great job just tying him up and Doug and Jack did a great job on the wings."

Britton fed Gil Goldsmith at 4:57 of the second quarter to tie the score at five heading into halftime. The teams went back and forth in the third quarter with O'Connor scoring off a pass from Brad McKelvey to put Liberty in front before Morris scored off an assist from Doug Goldsmith to tie the score, 6-6.

Vengen's unassisted strike at 5:59 made it 7-6 Liberty, but Doug Goldsmith again connected with Morris to knot the score once more.

Pongracz won the face-off to start the fourth quarter and scored just seven seconds in, and Ferullo scored unassisted shortly after as Liberty opened a 9-7 lead. Britton scored 10 seconds later, but Kalmowitz sank a goal at the 9:00 mark to once again give the Lions a two-goal advantage.

"We said we have to keep it within two and not let them get that goal to take a three-goal lead," Malfa said. "We thought if we did that and got the ball back on offense we could make a little run."

Shore scored the next three goals to take an 11-10 lead as Doug Goldsmith and Britton scored unassisted goals 40 seconds apart before Doug Goldsmith dished to Turner for the go-ahead goal. Kalmowitz's late strike had the Blue Devils reeling, but they were able to pull it out in the end write the latest chapter in their short history.

"It feels awesome," Britton said. "We finally dug deep when it really mattered."

 

BOX SCORE

Shore 12, Jackson Liberty 11 (OT)

Jackson Liberty (10-5) 2 3 2 4 0 -- 11

Shore (11-4)                4 1 2 4 1 -- 12

GOALS - JL: Kalmowitz 3, Pongracz 3, M. Ferullo 2, M. Matthies, O'Connor, Vengen; S: D. Goldsmith 3, Morris 3, Britton 3, G. Goldsmith 2, Turner.

ASSISTS - JL: McKelvey; S: D. Goldsmith 5, Britton 3.

SAVES - JL: Mulholland 12; S: Avallone 10.

SHOTS: Shore, 32-24.

 

Lacrosse editor Bob Badders can be reached at badders@allshoremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.