Danielle Rivas was almost hyperventilating, the adrenaline still coursing through her body.
The junior midfielder had just assisted Kelly Clarke for second-seeded East Meadow's winner 58 seconds into overtime of the Nassau Class A field hockey semifinals. The home team defeated third-seeded Baldwin, 2-1, Wednesday, rallying after being down a goal at halftime.
"It's so exciting. The adrenaline. It's really emotional," Rivas said between gasps for air.
Rivas cramped up and left the game with three minutes remaining in regulation, but she returned to the field after a five-minute break between periods. "Thank God she came out strong and, boom, got the assist," coach Courtney Castle said.
The Jets (6-4) wasted no time in the extra period, pushing the ball into Baldwin's circle on their first possession.
"I was like, 'Score in overtime,'" Castle said. "Do it. We want this. Bam."
Baldwin goalie Jenn Doyle made a diving save on East Meadow's initial shot, but the ball came to Rivas, who sent a cross toward the right post before Doyle could recover.
"I just whacked it and hoped for the best," Clarke said.
And the best happened for East Meadow, which will face top-seeded Massapequa (8-2) in Sunday's county final.
At halftime it was Baldwin (6-4) that appeared destined for a shot at the Chiefs. The Bruins led 1-0, thanks to a Christy Davis goal 1:42 before the break. "At halftime, we were like, 'Keep our heads up. It doesn't matter,' " Rivas said. "We just had to play our hardest, and we'd get it."
The Bruins earned three penalty corners in the first six minutes of the second half. They just couldn't convert.
East Meadow broke up the third penalty corner, and Victoria Bova raced upfield with the ball. Baldwin's Nadia Elcock disrupted her breakaway, but the Jets retained possession. Bova netted the equalizer a minute later at the 23:07 mark.
The Jets' resiliency again will be critical when they face a Massapequa team that dealt them a 5-1 loss on Sept. 20. "We're definitely going to give Massapequa a hard fight," Clarke said. "We're not going to give up."
That strategy worked well on Wednesday.