By BRIAN CUNNIFF
OCEAN CITY — The Middle Township High School field hockey team earned perhaps its biggest regular-season victory in program history Wednesday evening.
The Lady Panthers took down perennial South Jersey and state power Ocean City, 3-2 in overtime, in a game played under the lights at Carey Stadium in damp, breezy conditions.
The result marked the first time Ocean City lost a game to a Cape May County opponent.
Kate Herlihy scored in transition from a sharp angle from the right side of goal, placing the ball just inside the far post for the game-winner a little more than a minute into the extra period.
Herlihy’s goal capped a wild last few minutes of the contest. Middle (13-2) thought it had the game won when Caroline Gallagher scored her second goal of the game with 2 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in regulation. But the Raiders (11-5) forced overtime by scoring with no time left in regulation when Tara McNally tipped Chloe Prettyman’s shot over Middle goalie Amber Howatt to finish off a corner chance.
Prettyman opened the scoring with eight minutes to play before halftime to give Ocean City the lead. Gallagher equalized three minutes later.
The game somewhat served as an unofficial CAL title game. Middle is a win away from clinching the National Conference title, while Ocean City is on course to tie Millville for the American Conference title.
Ocean City, which won the South Jersey championship for the 16th time last season, has won 21 of the past 22 American Conference championships.
Wednesday’s victory was Middle’s eighth straight.