As in so many other instances in the last decade, the Westhill girls soccer team's direct path to a Section III Class B championship ran right into Marcellus.
And when the two long-time rivals clashed once more last Saturday night at Chittenango High School's turf, they would take a long, long time to settle things.
In fact, the Warriors and Mustangs technically wouldn't settle anything, ending up tied at 1-1 and declared as sectional co-champions. But in the penalty-kick shoot-out to decide who would move on to the state tournament, Westhill prevailed 4-2.
After two regular-season defeats to Marcellus on Sept. 19 and Oct. 11, the Warriors finally figured the Mustangs out, something that even head coach Lisa Duffy found a bit difficult to comprehend.
"Maybe it takes us until the post-season to figure it out," she said.
On this chilly evening where the temperature dipped below 30 degrees, both Westhill and Marcellus would find that their respective offensive attacks were just as ice-cold.
Through 80 minutes of a 0-0 regulation stalemate, neither side had a big chance to score, and the goalies -- Lauren Wolfe for the Warriors, Megan Tock for the Mustangs -- did not have to make many spectacular stops.
For Westhill's part, defenders Mackenzie Rainone, Alyssa Reale and Bridget Dwyer never allowed the Mustangs' attackers to get too close, forcing long, low-percentage shots that weren't going to post a big danger.
"We just did not let (Marcellus) organize their attack," said Dwyer.
So it went to 20 minutes of mandatory overtime. Near the end of the first 10-minute OT period, the Mustangs made a big charge and took a shot that hit the right post. The rebound came out to Erin Corcoran, who fired a shot past Wolfe 7.7 seconds before the period ended.
Still, 10 minutes of OT remained, and Dwyer said she reminded her team that they had come this far, with a chance, so there was no reason to surrender.