From scintillating to sobering, the Baldwinsville boys soccer team's experience during the state Class AA final four at Middletown High School covered every emotion - and the end result was a second-place finish everyone could feel proud of.
In the end, the Bees' title dreams fell just short in a 2-0 defeat to Brentwood in the AA finals Sunday afternoon, a game that lay in doubt until the last minutes of regulation, when Brentwood scored twice in a three-minute span.
After that, an already physical game got more physical at the end - and B'ville, by far, got the worst of it. Separate collisions left Kevin Thompson and Stefan Merchant with concussions that required extra medical attention.
Thompson, with what was diagnosed as a "Level 3" concussion, had to leave the field on a stretcher for precautionary reasons. He stayed overnight at Westchester Trauma Center for observation, then was released the next day.
Merchant, whose last-minute goal had beaten Fayetteville-Manlius in the Section III Class AA final, was treated and came home on Sunday.
From an experience standpoint, B'ville was new to the unique pressure of a state final. By contrast, Brentwood, the Section VIII powerhouse from Long Island, was playing in its fifth title game in six years.
So maybe it wasn't too surprising that, in the first half, Brentwood controlled most of the flow of play, making B'ville's defense work extra-hard. The back line, led by Jake Lunduski, Kyle Mulligan and Matt Miles, held up well, and goalie Andrew Coughlin handled all of his chances, too.
The Bees kept it 0-0, and early in the second half its offense, with Ben Ramin and Adam Lauko setting the pace, created great opportunities to go out in front, but could not convert, ultimately falling back into a defensive mode.
That worked for a while, and overtime for the second consecutive day looked quite possible. But with 6:02 left, amid a scramble in front of Coughlin, Brentwood's Jonathan Interiano got free and, off a pass from Andres Franco, flicked the ball into the net.