A shot here, or a call there -- the smallest things become the most important details in the wake of a close contest with large stakes.
And that's what made the Fayetteville-Manlius girls lacrosse team's 14-13 defeat to West Genesee in Tuesday's Section III Class A final at SUNY-Cortland such a bitter result to accept.
In the immediate aftermath, Kate Noel, the Hornets' first-year head coach, openly wondered if Bre Hudgens' go-ahead goal with 1:03 to play should have counted, F-M believing that she had entered the crease before taking the shot.
Just as frustrating was the push foul called on the ensuing draw, which allowed the Wildcats to gain possession and ultimately run out the clock for its fourth straight sectional title.
Those questions, though, could not obscure how F-M had played right with, or even better than, the heavily favored Wildcats and came within inches of dethroning them.
"We fought hard to the last second," Noel said.
Right away, it was apparent that the Hornets, who lost 16-8 and 16-9 regular-season decisions to WG, would make the third encounter more exciting.
F-M hit on its first six shots, overcoming an early 3-1 deficit to take a 6-4 lead midway through the first half, forcing the Wildcats to replace starting goalie Sarah Elmer with Libby Byrne. Kelly Perry, Morgan Same, Marilyn Farrell and Mollie Caputo all scored during this early phase.
WG used four straight goals to move back in front 8-6, only to have Perry and Alex Murphy strike just before halftime to pull even again at 8-8.
In all, the game would feature eight ties, and neither side would lead by more than two. Yet when Sarah Lux and Marri Ryu put in goals seven seconds apart to help F-M seize a 12-10 lead, a title appeared within reach.