Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Menlo School goaltender Donya Dehnad blocks a shot attempt by Hillsdale’s Rebecca Robinson during Menlo’s 7-5, overtime win Tuesday.
The first time the Menlo School and Hillsdale girls’ water polo teams faced off in Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division play, Menlo pulled out a win on a goal with six seconds left.
In the rematch Tuesday, Hillsdale rallied from a 5-2, fourth-quarter deficit to send the game into overtime but, for the second time this season, Menlo pulled out a 7-5 victory.
“You never know (what can happen) in overtime,” said Menlo coach Matt Jones. “We normally play very well in the fourth quarter and Hillsdale definitely outplayed us in the fourth quarter.”
That, said Hillsdale coach Andy Hodzic, was the plan.
“I tried to save my best players for the fourth quarter,” Hodzic said.
Trailing 5-2, Hillsdale (8-4 PAL Ocean) scored a pair of goals from Shannon Taliaferro to cut the Menlo (8-3) lead to 5-4 with 5:24 to play in regulation.
It appeared Menlo took a 6-4 lead with just over two minutes to play, when Kate Huneke scored off an assist from Audrey Flower following a Hillsdale foul.
The goal was put up on the scoreboard and the teams lined up to restart play when Hodzic voiced his concern over the legality of the goal. After the two referees conferred, it was ruled no goal and Hillsdale still trailed by a goal.
It turned out to be a huge call as Taliaferro scored her third goal of the period with 1:19 left to tie the game at 5.
At that point, Jones was concerned Hillsdale might take that momentum and the match following the reversed call.
“Absolutely,” Jones said. “When a team scores two on you and you score one back, but then they take it away, it definitely hurts. It gives them (Hillsdale) all the momentum.”
Menlo, however, quickly seized control of momentum in the first of two, three-minute overtime periods. Less than 30 seconds into the first extra period, Huneke scored a goal that counted, a power-play goal off an assist from Lucy Heneghan. From the wing, Heneghan dumped a pass into the hole set for Huneke, who buried her shot.
It appeared Hillsdale had the match tied up about 20 seconds later when Darya Shtykalo received a pass in the set and fired a shot that beat Menlo goaltender Donya Dehnad.
Unfortunately for Hillsdale, Shtykalo’s shot glanced off the post and ricocheted across the front of the goal cage — but never crossed the line.
With its one-goal lead still intact, Menlo outlasted Hillsdale in the second overtime period. Hillsdale had its chance, but a long lead pass from Ashley Piccinini to Shtykalo was a bit too far and Dehnad picked up the loose ball.
Menlo then scored an insurance goal on the man advantage with just under a minute to play with Huneke scoring her second goal of overtime off an assist from Flower.
Although his team let the regulation win slip away, Jones was proud to see his Menlo squad regroup and play well in overtime.
“We did finish strong,” Jones said. “It just came in overtime.”
For a while, it appeared the game would not even get to extra time. After both teams squandered goal-scoring opportunities in the opening minutes of the first period, Hillsdale took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Shtykalo, off an assist from Rebecca Robinson with just under five minutes left in the opening quarter.
Menlo tied it on a goal from Anna Miller, off an assist from Huneke. Menlo then took lead just before the end of the period when Leslie Akin scored from the perimeter with six seconds left and the shot clock winding down.
The second period was a defensive battle with Menlo scoring the only goal of the period on a fastbreak goal from Chloe Ebrahimian, off an assist from Dehnad.
Menlo scored a pair of goals by Akin to up its lead to 5-1 in the third period before Hillsdale made its move. Isik Yildiz scored on a backhand shot from the hole set with 3:25 left in the third period to kick-start Hillsdale’s rally.
Taliaferro scored her first of three fourth-period goals less than a minute into the final period to pull Hillsdale to 5-3, setting up the final frantic minutes.
“I was happy with our play in the middle quarters,” Jones said. “I was expecting it to be close.”