His team down by a goal, Sal Tuttle raced down the field as the final seconds ticked away on Adelphi's NCAA Division II lacrosse quarterfinal game against Merrimack.
The Farmingdale High School graduate stole a peek at the clock, recognized he had time for one more stride and fired a shot on goal from about 10 yards out.
Merrimack goalie Dom Madonna got just enough stick on Tuttle's shot to deflect the ball over the cage at the horn Saturday, sealing a 10-9 upset for the visiting No. 3 Warriors (13-2).
"I felt, man, we've got to go out like this? It hurts," Tuttle said. "It's a feeling that will be really hard to get over these next couple weeks, couple months."
That's the emotional pain the back-to-back Northeast-10 champs and No. 2-seeded Panthers (15-3) felt in the moments after their season-ending loss to their conference rival. Tuttle said he felt physical pain when he injured his right knee during a collision near the cage late in the first quarter, after he had scored two goals and assisted on another to help Adelphi take a 4-2 lead.
Adelphi coach Gordon Purdie said the team doctor cleared Tuttle, who remained in the game with his knee wrapped. The junior pulled up hobbling several more times, but his teammates rallied around his effort, especially after Merrimack took a 9-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
"I think it just shows how hard he works, that he's going to leave everything on the field," said Islip's Joe Sciara, who had four caused turnovers. "Guys showed that it gets them pumped up and gives them even more motivation to try and win."
Two minutes after Max Allen gave Merrimack a 10-7 lead with 11:34 left, Anthony DeLuca cut the gap to two off a pass from Paul Bentz. Then Tuttle, who before the game ranked third in Division II with 4.76 points per game, slipped through the defense and sneaked his third goal past Madonna with 2:57 left.
The Panthers just couldn't get the equalizer.
"It stinks to go out like this, but it was, overall, a great season," Tuttle said.
No Panthers team had ever won back-to-back Northeast-10 championships, Purdie said.
"We achieved something no one else has," Purdie said. "We wanted this win, and we didn't get it. We'll overcome it and get better for next year."