See the top five plays from the Cougars' thrilling 8-7 overtime win over the Eagles Tuesday. Matt Catrillo/GameTimePA.com
PALMYRA – Most coaches and players will tell anyone their approach to each season is “a one game at a time” mentality.
That's true for the Palmyra boys lacrosse team. But those close to the program know the Cougars had one game and one game only circled on their calendar from the very beginning – a date against Cumberland Valley, a program Palmyra has strived to be able to compete against.
Add having the Cougars' perfect season on the line, and Tuesday’s matchup against the Eagles (10-3) was a no doubt a big one.
And in a game fittingly played in the swirling wind and rain, Palmyra battled through its greatest amount of adversity all season, pulling out an 8-7 overtime win, thanks to Kyle Nolen’s game-winner just 1:05 into the extra session on an assist from Ethan Gain.
Nolen said, “I just kept moving around and I knew my man Ethan would find me on the crease sooner or later. I just did a quick stick like I usually do and it worked out. It feels great taking down a Class 3A team when you’re a Class 2A team. It’s exciting.”
As if having the game-winning goal in arguably the biggest game of the season for his team wasn’t enough, the win is even sweeter for Nolen (three goals, two assists) on a personal level.
“I know I’ve never beaten Cumberland Valley in my entire career, and I’ve played for eight years,” Nolen said. “We’ve (Nolen and Gain) been playing together for as long as I can remember, being in the backyard playing. That chemistry’s up there.”
Gain finished the game with three helpers, while Grant Haus also recorded a hat trick and an assist. Pete Robertson added two goals as well.
The Cougars also move to 13-0, which ties a program-high set last season that saw Palmyra reach the district playoffs for the first time ever.
“I’m extremely proud of these guys,” Palmyra coach Dave Ondrusek said. “Showing the resiliency they have, to be able to come back and deliver every single game is beyond belief. There’s such a spirit with these guys and they work so well together that I don’t think you can coach.”
There were certainly plenty of adverse times for Palmyra, surviving a game that had six lead changes, and also after having blown a 7-5 lead with 11:04 left in regulation.
“We’ve always been a second-half team, at least so far this season,” Ondrusek said. “We’ve always been able to battle back when we had to. At the end of the game we had an opportunity, we just didn’t capitalize on it. In the overtime we just said we were going to play our game and take the win, and that’s what we did.”
Coming into the season, taking the next step off of last year’s success was the goal, and a win like this over a team like Cumberland Valley sure helps the Cougars to continue moving in the right direction.
“We’re hoping it keeps building the momentum of the program,” Ondrusek said. “We had a lot of the younger kids out watching the game. If that doesn’t help motivate and build the program, I don’t know what will. We’re a smaller school, but you know what, we proved we can compete with the bigger ones. We’re happy about that and we just want to keep the season rolling.”