CORTLAND, N.Y. -- When West Genesee commenced its celebratory stick toss, the Bay Shore girls lacrosse team held on to theirs. They stayed in position for a moment, until the .3 on the scoreboard counted down to zero.
"Even up to the final seconds, we had confidence," Kaitlyn Arnold said. "We still thought we could do it."
West Genesee, the No. 8 team in the country, overwhelmed a jittery Bay Shore team which nonetheless came back three times before finally falling, 10-9, in the state Class A semifinal, Friday afternoon at SUNY-Cortland.
Carly Cox's one-timer on a behind-the-net feed from Kyra Harney tied the score at 8, but back-to-back Wildcat goals and a number of late-game turnovers quashed any hope of a comeback.
Alia Hildebrandt's score -- a goal where she streaked across the left side before taking on Dylan Teitelbaum one-on-one -- gave West Genesee the 10-8 lead with 2:50 left.
"I feel like everyone was starting to get a little bit nervous that it was coming down to the final seconds," said Caroline deLyra, who scored twice. "We had to put one in fast and we couldn't do it. We took some pretty bad shots and we just didn't keep possession."
Down by two, Bay Shore (19-2) won the draw control but lost the ball on an ensuing penalty. The Wildcats (19-1) killed time until Perri Baker forced a turnover with 1:57 to go, but a Marauder turnover near the West Genesee cage stalled the momentum 30 seconds later.
DeLyra scored on a free position with 32 seconds left for her 75th of the year. That's as far as it would go after West Genesee won the draw and ran out the clock -- a somewhat eventful spate where Bay Shore was whistled three times for overly-enthusiastic defense.
"We felt like it was going to be a Farmingdale replay," deLyra said. "It just didn't turn out in our favor." DeLyra was referencing the Long Island championship, where Bay Shore rallied from a 13-9 second-half deficit to win in overtime.
This game did have shades of that one, with Bay Shore, ranked 11 in the country, again entering as the unanimous underdog and coming back from an early 4-1 deficit. Arnold's free position with 3:09 left in the first tied it at 5, and Cynthia DelCore finished her nifty spin move with an overhand flick to tie it at 6 at the half.
This was Bay Shore's first trip to the state tournament since 2005, but coaches Allison and John Pfeffer said they had no plans to wait seven more years. "We'll work hard and we'll be back," said Allison Pfeffer, her husband echoing her thoughts.
"You got to take the good with the bad, and 19-2 is not bad," he said, noting the team is only graduating two seniors. "We're young."
Arnold, who along with Cox and DelCore will spearhead next campaign, said she couldn't wait. "We worked our butts off this season," she said. "[But] that's something to look forward to next year."