It's known in the tradition-rich sport of soccer as a golden goal -- the lofty and colorful phrase to describe a sudden-death overtime game-winner.
Whitman struck gold Monday, but the prize was delivered on a silver platter.
In the fifth minute of overtime, the Wildcats' Mike Lorello sent an accurate free kick, taken from the left sideline about 30 yards from the goal, right into the scrum of bodies in front of the Brentwood net.
Sean Zagorski was preparing to leap for an offensive header when, suddenly, a Brentwood defender accidentally headed it past his own shell-shocked goalkeeper to give No. 4 Whitman a 2-1 victory over No. 1 Brentwood in a Suffolk AA semifinal played before a loud, overflow crowd at Brentwood.
The Wildcats (15-3-1) advance to Thursday's county championship game against Commack at 6:30 p.m. at Dowling.
"I hit it where I wanted to, but I didn't realize it was in," said Lorello, who was credited with the goal because his boot was on net.
Just before the free kick, Zagorski sidled up to his friend with coded instructions for where to deliver the ball. "I said, 'C.I.' to let him know to send it toward the near post," said Zagorski, who converted Lorello's free kick that way for a 1-0 victory over Central Islip on Oct. 3. "I was getting ready to flick it on goal, when it went off them."
While Brentwood's players and fans were stunned by that development, Zagorski and Lorello led a Wildcats' charge across the field, where a contingent of Whitman supporters was cheering wildly.
"Our fan base is one of the best," Zagorski said.
Said Lorello with a sly smile, "I think I saw some kids who left school early to get here." He was referring to the 2 p.m. start time, before school had officially ended.
Whitman's Fabrizio Chamorro tied the score at 1 early in the second half with an unassisted low shot that caught the left corner. Brentwood (16-2-1) had scored in the game's third minute on a left-footed blast by Roberto Ventura off a pass from Ever Torres, and threatened several more times.
"We were flat in the first 15 minutes against a quality team," Whitman coach John DiGiacomo said. "Then we settled down and were able to show that we belonged here. I always have confidence in our ability to score."
His players were confident, too. "We were ranked sixth coming into the season, but I knew we could take on anyone," Lorello said.
So did Zagorski, who said, "We weren't scared of them."
The Wildcats' triumph ended the glorious high school career of Brentwood's Torres, who finished his four-year varsity tenure with 72 goals, the fifth most in Suffolk County history. A gold standard, for sure.