On the backdrop of a nearly set sun and a game clock dangerously close to completion, Groton sophomore Lauren Reeves found a ball at her feet and put one touch on it with her left foot.
It hit the back of the net, the first shot to do so all afternoon, and lifted Groton to a 1-0 overtime victory over Class C ranked No. 11 Lansing with 27.3 seconds left in the second overtime period of a girls soccer match at Sobus Field Thursday in Lansing. It was the first loss of the year for the Bobcats (6-1-1) and only the second goal the defense has let in all season.
"I didn't know it happened," said Reeves, who has 10 goals. "I was kind of just stunned and then it hit me and all my teammates were just crashing and it was overwhelming and just awesome."
In a game of moments that brought family and fans of both sides to the tips of their toes too many times to count, the final break through elicited loud whoops and elation from the red-clad around the stadium. Lansing had an opportunity to tie, but the Groton (7-2-0) defense held as strong as it had been doing all night.
"This win is really big, especially for Groton soccer," Reeves said. "As far as we know we haven't beat them in 19-plus years. So this win is just amazing for our program."
Reeves was a large part of that. The striker/defender was at the middle of most clearing opportunities, giving the initial go to a night of opportunities early with through balls that led the speedy Sophia Bell up the right side of play.
After 80 intense minutes of regulation soccer were put in the books, Groton controlled the first of two 10-minute overtime periods. (There is no "golden goal" for the girls, though there is for boys.)
The Indians were close to breaking through with Reeves placing a free kick a little high and Maggie Ossit going wide on an open net after a goalkeeper turnover at the 85th minute.
It was a continuation of regulation, where Groton hit the post and side net multiple times while Lansing was thwarted up the sidelines before being able to get any good looks.
With 90 minutes of hard soccer in the books, Groton head coach Dick Brecht decided to make a change.
"At the end of that first overtime I said neither team deserves to lose this game because both teams played their hearts out," Brecht said. "We had players go down (due to injury) on both ends ... And then I decided to put three up front with Lauren in that last overtime because I figured if we lost we’d already proven what we needed to prove to ourselves.
"And I decided to just go big or go home."
It worked, the goal coming after a free kick Morgan Dittman passed to Ossit, who kept it alive.
Lansing head coach Ken Kutler said the winning goal was simply misplayed and Groton deserved to win.
"They had better chances to score. We never tested their goalkeeper," he said.
Groton took 12 shots and nearly as many corners. Six of the nine regulation corner opportunities came in the second half and three consecutive ones came in the 60th minute.
The Bobcats had trouble connecting with each other and took four shots through regulation with only a few chances in the overtime periods. Lansing took one corner.
"(It's a) good question," Kutler said of his team's inability to test Emma DeMatteo in goal. "Our first touch was up for grabs. We were not playing accurate passes to our own players. A lot of the run of the play we just seemed to play the ball into one of the Groton players rather than putting some space as we try to do. But it didn’t happen tonight."
Groton came out with intensity; the two teams met around this time in 2016, both with undefeated records, and Lansing took the win. The Indians controlled possession with little making it back to DeMatteo and proficiently found feet up the field though the Lansing defense continuously stood tall.
Lansing had its most prime opportunity in the 20th minute when a call in the box gave the Bobcats a penalty kick opportunity. The shot went wide left. It was only about five minute prior that the Bobcats got off their first true shot on goal and Groton countered with a shot by Lilly McCormick that hit the side of the net on a set-up by Brooke Brecht.
The battle continued through the second half of regulation and the first overtime as Groton kept most of the control but Lansing tore down the field on plays that were looking to be one-on-one when the speedy Groton defense fell back to cut it off.
Jill Austin, Ashley Stanbro and Catalina Zaloj were able to get up the sidelines but to no avail throughout the contest.
INJURY REPORT: Play was stopped multiple times and two players, one from each side, were carried off the field.
In the 32nd minute Lansing senior Kassie Riemer went for a shot in the box as DeMatteo came out to get the ball. The two tangled and Riemer's ankle was caught underneath the play. Kutler said immediately after the game she might have a broken left ankle. She was already dealing with a sprained right ankle. Riemer is the Bobcat's leading scorer with two hat tricks already on the year.
Groton's Shannon Lang was caught up in a collision around midfield in the 54th minute of play and she was also carried off.
With 2:11 left in the first overtime, Groton's Framke Vitale went down hard near the sideline and was helped off the field.
LANSING STARTING XI: Kassie Riemer, Ashley Stanbro, Jill Austin, Miya Kuramoto, Catalina Zaloj, Abbie Jones, Gwen Gisler, Catie Eisenhut, Rowan Lawrence, Ashley Bell, Lena Gisler (GK)
GROTON STARTING XI: Maddison Coombs, Maggie Ossit, Taylor Thompson, Alyssa Thompson, Sophia Bell, Lauren Reeves, Brooke Brecht, Brittney Stanley, Framke Vitale, Abby Corcoran, Emma DeMatteo (GK)
UP NEXT: Groton has a quick turnaround and will host host Union Springs Friday at 4:30 p.m. Lansing is off until Wednesday when it travels to play Whitney Point.
For more on this game and the two teams going forward see the Sept. 27 edition of the Finger Lakes Community Newspapers. Contact sports editor Cassandra Negley via email at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter, @casnegley.