Thus, when Cailyn Negus scored early in the half and Jackie Pardee, off a feed from Hannah Elmer, found the net with 12:35 left, WG’s 8-4 lead seemed quite safe. But the Wildcats knew all too well that Pittsford had rallied from behind throughout its post-season run, so it couldn’t relax yet.
But they had no idea just how tense it would get – or how long it would take to settle matters.
Allie Panara’s goal with 5:03 left began an all-out Panthers rally. Holly Turner dominated in the draw circle, and it led to Panara adding a goal and assist to make it 8-7. Then, with 1:55 left, Panara fed Kelsie Schindler, who put it past Widrick for the tying goal.
Neither team could convert at the end of regulation, leading to a pair of mandatory three-minute overtime periods. Abi Cullinan’s goal late in the first extra period put Pittsford back in front 9-8, and pushed the Wildcats to the brink.
During the second extra period, one possible tying shot clanged off the crossbar, but Hannah Elmer, who had not scored a goal all day, took a well-timed pass from Marissa Hudgins on a free position to score with 29 seconds left, tying it again at 9-9.
Now they went to sudden-victory periods, where the first goal would win. Here, Widrick made the two biggest saves of her career, twice stuffing possible game-winning shots from the Panthers’ sticks.
“I just saw the ball and caught it. “I didn’t want this to be it for our seniors.”
So that period ended 9-9, and so did the next extra frame, leaving the tired Wildcats and Panthers to ponder a fifth three-minute period, with WG a player up due to a Pittsford yellow card.
Donahue cleanly won the face-off from Turner. Then, as the Panthers’ defenders chased both her and Elmer with the same double teams they had used all afternoon, Meager sped for the net, got the pass from Donahue and, within moments, had the entire WG roster mobbing her for delivering a career-defining goal.
The reward was returning to SUNY-Cortland less than 24 hours later for Friday's state Class A final against West Islip (Section XI), who had its own battle in the semifinals, but beat Suffern 9-7 without having to go through all the OT drama that the Wildcats did.
"We hope we can get our legs back in time for tomorrow," said Bob Elmer.