Mount Sinai holds on, advances to state Class C final

Mount Sinai's Alex Flobeck, right, hugs Kasey Mitchell Mount Sinai's Alex Flobeck, right, hugs Kasey Mitchell as teammates Shayna Pirreca, facing left, and Marisa Colacino hug following the Class C NYSPHSAA Girls Lacrosse Championships semifinal. (June 7, 2013) Photo Credit: Adrian Kraus

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CORTLAND, N.Y. - Julia Michaels saw her bawling teammate in the penalty box, knelt down, and touched her goalie mask to the girl's forehead. Don't worry. I got this.

Marisa Colacino -- the midfielder with the titanium screws in her hip -- limped along the sideline, practically growling. I'm fine. Let me play.

Kasey Mitchell, who had six goals in Mount Sinai's state semifinal in 2011, hesitated to score with a lead in the final minutes. Honeoye Falls-Lima broke the stall, tied the score, and sent the game to overtime. Give me the ball again. I can do what I did two years ago.

There were plenty of unspoken messages in the final emotion-filled minutes of the Mustangs' 7-6 overtime win in a state Class C girls lacrosse semifinal Friday at SUNY Cortland. Here is a spoken one: "I just had to make one more stop. One more stop," Michaels said. "You can't think the game is over, because it's not."

Up by one with 1.9 seconds left, Michaels stopped Cari Stankaitis' free position, but the save was called back for shooting space. With 1.5 seconds left, Stankaitis' shot sneaked inside the pipe, but that too, was called back for shooting space. One last try, with a second left, went just wide on Michaels' well-defended far side.

It was an ending so wild, not even the dazed Mustangs knew it was over until the referees finally called it. "When I heard the refs say, game's over, only then there was relief," Michaels said.

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Mount Sinai plays Skaneateles in the final at 2:30 p.m. today.

Mitchell scored on a bouncer to tie it at 6 with 1:43 left in OT, and Michaels preserved it on a point-blank save with two seconds left. The game went to its mandated second OT and, after Colacino nabbed a ground ball, Mitchell scored again -- on a bouncer -- to give Mount Sinai the lead.

"It was this rush of adrenaline," Mitchell said. "Especially since we feel we've been doubted." Colacino, who writhed on the field after being slammed in her "good hip" with about five minutes left in regulation, returned in overtime.

"I told them I'm not losing this game. I'm going back in," Colacino said. "Defense wins championships and our defense has been so amazing. We can transition to get those amazing goals to Kasey Mitchell."

The Mustangs (19-0) had a 5-3 lead going into the break but were shut out in the second half, when they had two goals called back -- one on Sydney Pirreca's dangerous shot and the other Shayna Pirreca's illegal stick.

A Stankaitis goal drew the Cougars (15-6) to within one midway through the second half, and Honeoye broke the Mustangs' stall with a minute to go. A Michaels heel save preserved the lead, but with the net empty on a subsequent restart and Michaels scrambling, Honeoye's Melissa Villanti tied it at 5 with 32.7 left in regulation. Michaels, who had 10 saves, stopped another free position with time expiring.

Meanwhile, the defense, led by Colacino and Morgan McGrath, was indefatigable -- stopping a team that won 21-0 in its regional qualifier. Mount Sinai has held each team to single digits this year.

"I've learned you have to keep composure, no matter what," Michaels said. "You can't get excited. You can't lose your head. It's not over until the final whistle."

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