Had the Cazenovia field hockey team not pulled out a 2-1 overtime victory over Morrisville-Eaton in the Section III Class C-D state qualifier Tuesday night at Rome Free Academy Stadium, it may have haunted the Lakers for a long time.
Eager to return to the state tournament it conquered for the first time in 2010, the Class C champion Lakers had no less than 21 penalty corners against the Class D champion Warriors, yet still found itself in sudden death, playing seven-on-seven to keep its season alive.
Then a very familiar face stepped up. Jillian Vogl, she of the winning goal in the state championship game against Pierson-Bridgehampton a year ago, charged in and, five minutes into the extra period, slid the decisive shot past M-E goalie Jesse Woodruff to end it.
That it even reached that point was, in large measure, a tribute to the tenacity of Smalley and the Warriors' defense.
All through the first half, Cazenovia camped itself in M-E's end, working the ball toward the net. Whether through shots (12) or penalty corners (nine), the Lakers kept harassing Woodruff, and every time she turned them away, with nine of her overall 13 saves.
So it went to the second half still 0-0, but it didn't stay that way for long. Just 1:22 into the half, Cazenovia finally got on the board when Emily Willard, off a deft pass from Vogl, put home the first goal of the night.
Trying to add to that 1-0 lead, Cazenovia immediately earned four straight corners and got turned away again, leaving the door ajar for M-E - who, just past the midway point of the second half, would pull even.
Just after Vogl's possible clinching goal got disallowed, the Warriors' Amber Smalley picked up the ball on her end and, in a 50-yard run, waited until she was just inside the circle before lacing a shot past Lauren Devine.
Cazenovia still had time for five more penalty corners in the late stages of regulation, but they were turned back, forcing the Lakers to stay patient until overtime, when Vogl saved them again.
On Saturday, the Lakers return to Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium to face the Section V-VI representative (East Rochester or Barker) in the state quarterfinals, hoping for a win so it can make at least one more trip to CNS for next weekend's state final four.