CICERO, N.Y. -- It's often said that a key component in the makeup of any great closer is a short memory; the ability to brush off any mistake as if it didn't happen.

Garden City's Catherine McTiernan begs to differ. Forget it? She's still a tad embarrassed about the shot that hit the side of the cage on a breakaway in overtime.

Good thing for her there's a fresher memory to take its place. Less than two minutes after the gaffe, McTiernan afforded herself a laugh. The senior scored with 3:28 let in overtime, leading Garden City to a 2-1 win over Maine-Endwell in the Class B field hockey state semifinal Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse.

"I was trying to cross it and it got all messed up," McTiernan said of the botched play, shaking her head in disbelief. "That was terrible."

But for a player who has earned a reputation for delivering in the clutch, that snafu will serve as nothing more than something to look back on and joke about.

"Whatever," McTiernan said with a shrug and laugh. "We won."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Indeed. Garden City forced a turnover near midfield and McTiernan made an outlet pass to Jenna Fuchs, who dished off to Alexandra Bruno, who sent it back to McTiernan -- in a crowd this time -- and she swept it into the right corner.

"I love her," defender Catherine Dickinson said of McTiernan. "She keeps coming up big in big games. That's a good trait to have."

Garden City's win sets the stage for a showdown at noon Sunday with Lakeland, the powerhouse that's eliminated them in the two previous state tournaments.

But Saturday's win: "Exhilarating!" midfielder Tara Mahon said. "I love games like these; the thrill."

Well, Garden City (17-0-1) doesn't often allow itself many opportunities for edge-of-your-seat excitement. Having outscored opponents 73-6 this season, the Trojans usually find themselves comfortably ensconced on a cushion. But Maine-Endwell brought it, Trojans coach Diane Chapman said, "and they dominated most of the second [half]."

Fuchs scored off a pass from McTiernan at 19:23 of the first half, but Gabby Stein tied it for Maine-Endwell (13-2-1) with 23:56 left. Garden City survived some late scares, including four penalty corners in the last 10 minutes of regulation.

"It was something to adjust to because we don't usually give up a lot of corners," Dickinson said, "but we stayed composed and did well."

The last cleared corner, with 2:49 to go, came on Laura Fanning's diving stick save to her right. "I had to do anything in my power to keep that ball out," Fanning (eight saves) said. "I would've taken a ball to the face if it meant getting this win."

That wasn't necessary. All it took was some good defense and an overtime score.

"It was awesome," Fuchs said of McTiernan's goal. The two, close friends, rushed to embrace each other afterward. "McT getting it just makes it more fun."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

But Lakeland looms. The defending champs upended Garden City in overtime of the 2009 state semifinal and beat them 2-0 in last year's final. The Trojans arrived early Saturday to watch the other "B" semifinal: Lakeland's 7-0 win over Camden.

"We have unfinished business with them," Fanning said. "We have [11] seniors and we don't want it to end like that. We want those medals."