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BEDFORD, N.Y. – For three quarters, Putnam Valley was doing just about everything right and nothing could seem to go right for Fox Lane.
But in the fourth quarter, the momentum changed in an instant. Trailing 6-2, the Foxes outscored the Tigers 4-0 to force overtime.
Johnny Van de Veerdonk to the rescue.
The Georgetown-bound Van de Veerdonk scooped up a ground ball off a face-off and scored just seven seconds into overtime to propel Putnam Valley to a 7-6 win over host Fox Lane on Saturday afternoon.
“Right off the face-off I saw the ball and I saw the opportunity,” said Van de Veerdonk, who scored two goals and had an assist. “I just went in and shot it. It was the perfect break.”
Midfielder Rob Pasquale, who also scored two goals, knocked the face-off forward to allow Van de Veerdonk to scoop it up.
“I concentrated all my energy to just pull it out front for Johnny,” Pasquale said. “Fortunately I won (the face-off) and he got it.”
Putnam Valley held a 6-1 lead late in the third quarter when Fox Lane started to rally, scoring five unanswered goals to close out regulation. Will Quaranta started it off for the Foxes with 57 seconds left in the third quarter.
Adam Markhoff (1G, 2A) scored just 17 seconds into the fourth quarter. Harry Woodhull netted two goals during the fourth quarter comeback, including the game-tying goal with 39 seconds left. Max Stern (1G, 1A) made it 6-5 with 7:11 left in the fourth.
The fourth quarter is something the Tigers hope they can learn from.
“I was getting a little scared towards the end, we were kind of falling apart,” Van de Veerdonk said. “We were taking shots we didn’t need. In overtime, I just wanted the win. We definitely learned our lesson today with them coming back. So when playoff time comes we’re ready for it.”
Putnam Valley (7-5), which led 2-1 at halftime, went on a 4-0 run to start the third quarter. Kevin Fitzsimmons scored 20 seconds into the third on an assist from Mike Walsh (1G, 2A). Walsh then scored on an assist from Van de Veerdonk. Pasquale and Fitzsimmons rounded out the third quarter scoring for the Tigers.
“Coach (Brian Kuczma) always gives inspirational speeches at halftime,” Van de Veerdonk said. “We never come out really strong in the beginning. When halftime comes, we come out strong and really want it. We try to bury a team.”
“We knew we had to keep pushing it, we couldn’t let down,” Pasquale said. “We knew they would come out fired up.”
The Putnam Valley defense was stellar for the majority of the game. Kyle Christopher was solid in net, stopping 12 shots.
“It was communication,” Pasquale said of the key to the strong defensive effort. “We just kept talking and knew where everyone was.”
Anthony Grasso tallied one goal and one assist for the Foxes (5-5). Phil Greco made 10 saves.
After the starting the season 0-4, Putnam Valley is 7-1 since. The Tigers took their lumps early on against powerhouses like Yorktown, Mahopac and Somers but they’re better because of it.
“I think we just built our confidence up,” Pasquale said of what has changed since the 0-4 start. “We learned to slow it down and not to press it when we don’t have the advantage on offense.”
Putnam Valley takes the field next against host Hendrick Hudson on Thursday, May 3.
“We had a tough schedule (to start the season),” Van de Veerdonk said. “We kind of learned from those games and we’ve been putting it on every other team. We really just need to put everything together. I think we have the talent on this team.”
* Follow Rob DiAntonio on Twitter @MSGV_RJD *