WATERTOWN — Facing arch rival Carthage in overtime, Watertown’s Ryder Simser didn’t hesitate when the opportunity presented itself.
Simser, a senior midfielder, scored the deciding goal with an unassisted effort with 1 minute and 43 seconds left in overtime and sophomore goalie Evan Richardson made 13 saves as the Cyclones edged the Comets, 8-7, in extra time Thursday night.
“It was definitely a good win for us,” Simser said. “We fought hard there at the end, really scrapped it out there and got the win.”
Although it was a nonleague game, this latest encounter between Watertown and Carthage didn’t disappoint or lack in intensity.
“This was crazy,” Richardson said. “We’ve had a really good week this week and we’ve got a big one on Saturday, so this felt great, honestly.”
“That was a great north country lacrosse game,” said first-year Carthage head coach Jason Coffman said. “Watertown is a really good team and we made too many mental mistakes to beat them. Their big-time players showed up at big moments.”
The Comets trailed 7-5 entering the fourth quarter, but fought their way back to tie the game on a goal each from Nick Cavellier and Jake Demko, including the tying goal with 3:12 remaining in regulation.
“They got on to us for a little bit, but we’ve faced adversity well and we really bounced back from that,” Richardson said.
“Of course, any game that goes into overtime is pretty intense,” Simser said. “We take pride in getting the job done and working hard in the OT and especially in the fourth quarter, too.”
After Watertown (5-3) failed to capitalize on a 30-second man advantage to start overtime, Simser later found himself free and from the right side beat Carthage goalie Noah Parks to the upper right side.
“I was just looking for the opportunity and looking for what’s open, and seeing guys cutting and stuff,” Simser said. “Just taking the opportunity when it’s there to capitalize on it, for sure.”
“We started overtime man-up and he got a good look and the goalie made a good save,” Watertown coach Brian Navarra said of Simser. “But again, nobody put their heads down and on the sideline, I told his father coach (Shane) Simser that he would have another chance, and sure enough, he buried that one.”
Richardson, a sophomore who is in his second season as the Cyclones’ starting goalie made six of his saves in the fourth quarter on his way to recording the win.
“I can’t ask for anything else from my defense, just seven goals, that’s great,” Richardson said. “They’re all my brothers out there, without them I’m nothing. And Nick Mallette’s out there playing with a torn ACL, the kid’s tough — I’ve got a lot of guys in front of me who really work hard.”
Richardson and Navarra were both quick to credit Watertown’s defense, including Mallette, who leads the defense, along with Nick Mesina, Julian Kucharski and Kenny Forbes.
“They’ve played well all year long and Carthage has some phenomenal offensive players,” Navarra said. “And I thought tonight, we did a great job and Evan made some good saves and timely saves, for sure. He made a couple big ones, he made a save on the doorstep with about two minutes left that was huge.”
Simser, who finished with three goals and an assist, provided Watertown with a two-goal advantage on his goal, also unassisted, with 8:54 left in regulation.
Then with Carthage on a two-minute, nonreleaseable man advantage after a Watertown player was called for a cross-check to the head, Cavellier scored a man-up goal with 6:01 left, with Demko assisting, and Demko followed with an unassisted goal to tie the game.
“I thought our man down did a phenomenal job,” Navarra said. “We did end up giving up one goal, but to give up one goal in a two-minute man down, we were OK with that. And we certainly didn’t give up at that point, our kids continue to fight.”
Demko, a sophomore midfielder, scored four goals and assisted on another to lead Carthage (3-5) and Cavellier scored a pair of goals.
“Anytime you can beat Carthage, it’s a big win for us,” Simser said. “We talk about it in practice, that especially for the seniors, this is the last time we’re going to play them at home. So it’s a fight every time and we really take pride in these games.”