For a collective moment, the West Genesee girls lacrosse team, on the field and standing on the sidelines, took in a deep breath and hoped for the best.
Once that moment had passed, once Farmingdale's last shot had gone wide, and once a second consecutive state Class A championship was attained, it was time to let loose.
Players hugged each other on the field and screamed for joy. Maria DiFato went so far as to do a somersault. A season full of high expectations had been met with perfection -- earned the hard way.
WG's 12-11 victory over Farmingdale in last Saturday's state final at SUNY-Cortland was a high-level masterpiece, in doubt from the opening draw to the time Melanie Raso's last shot bounced off target.
That last shot had every single Wildcat player dealing with unbearable tension.
"My mind was going nuts," said Lauren Welch. "I was just praying that nothing bad would happen."
"Our hearts all stopped," said Ariel Kramer, who put in the go-ahead goal with 3:18 left in regulation, one of her five goals on the afternoon.
It was that kind of game, a heart-stopper in doubt all the way through, and it required a lot of character -- something head coach Bob Elmer said his team clearly possessed.
"They've shown this kind of heart all year," he said. "It (a game) is always 50 minutes. We kept playing hard until the last whistle. This feels amazingly good."
What didn't feel so good was the way the game started -- a loss of the draw to Farmingdale's Candice Rossi, and Rossi streaking right down the field and putting a shot past WG goalie Kelly Fucillo with just 11 seconds expired.
Rossi would continue to dominate the draws for much of the game. Elmer tried five different players -- Kramer, Amanda Cizenski, Nicole Perkins, Karen Bianchi, Bre Hudgins - but none of them could consistently keep Rossi from gaining possession.