Between the clock controversy and the subsequent resetting of the scoreboard at Cardinal Stadium, the final 39 seconds of Friday afternoon's FCIAC girls lacrosse quarterfinal thriller felt more like 39 minutes.
Well, except for the frenzied final few seconds of action that were playing out in front of junior Greenwich goalie Kylie Ginsburg.
"Waiting for the game to restart felt like forever," Ginsburg said. "But that it was all like a blur. When that final horn went off, it was a great sound. We could finally exhale."
They sure could.
Fouth-seeded Greenwich built a big first-half lead and then held off hard-charging and fifth-seeded Staples, 14-13, to advance to Tuesday's FCIAC semifinals.
The Wreckers (9-6) completed a second-half comeback against the Cardinals (10-7) just last week, but this time their rally would come up just short after Nicole Najarian's score with 39 seconds remaining made it a one-goal game.
Following a long delay about when the clock should have actually stopped, Staples was awarded possession after a face-off infraction by Greenwich. But the final seconds would tick down, and after a wild scramble in front of the Cardinals cage, the Wreckers never could get that final shot off against Greenwich and Ginsburg, who was outstanding with 11 saves.
"It's tough to dig out of a 10-3 halftime hole," said Staples coach Pete Najarian, whose team twice trailed by as many as eight goals. "In a game like this between two pretty evenly-matched teams, possession is everything. They were killing us early on the draws, so we had to make some adjustments. I'm very proud of the girls for coming back they way they did."
Carolyn Paletta led the way with four goals and three assists for the Cards, who prevailed despite four yellow card disadvantages -- including a man-up goal by Nicole Williams with 1:43 remaining as Staples closed the contest on a 5-0 run.
"Everyone just stepped up when we needed it," said Paletta, who was forced to sit the final 1:54 after her second yellow card. "Kylie really rose to the occasion and I'm just really happy we were able to hold on. Hopefully this is the time when it all comes together for us."
Paige Mautner, Grace Paletta, Maddy Graves and Anne Dunster each scored two goals apiece in the victory, while Meredith Hood (four goals), Paige Murray (two goals, two assists), Colleen Bannon (two goals) and Williams (two goals) all had multiple scores for Staples.
Equal parts elated and relieved, Greenwich coach Caitlin Keane had plenty of praise to spread around amidst the postgame celebration.
"Really I'd have to mention the entire team for this win," Keane said. "We knew coming in it was going to be tough game, and Staples certainly did not go down without a fight. Possession is so important, and it became them making adjustments to us, and then more adjustments by us. They were able to rally the last time out, but this time when it mattered most our girls were able to dig down. I'm really proud of them."
Greenwich 14, Staples 13
Records: S 9-6; G 10-7.
Halftime: G 10-3.
Scoring: S -- Meredith Hood (4g), Paige Murray (2g,2a), Nicole Williams (2g), Colleen Bannon (2g), Jenna McNicholas (1g,1a), Kathryn Lesch (1g), Nicole Najarian (1g); G -- Carolyn Paletta (4g,3a), Paige Mautner (2g,2a), Grace Paletta (2g,1a), Maddy Graves (2g), Anne Dunster (2g), Hannah Koorbusch (1g), Natalie Paletta (1g). Goalies: S - Emma Boland (4 saves); Kylie Ginsburg (11 saves).