BROOKFIELD -- The time on the scoreboard clock began to wind down in the third overtime of the New Canaan High School field hockey team's Class L state tournament quarterfinal round battle with New Milford.
Still scoreless, the game seemed destined for penalty strokes, so some of the Rams began to practice their free shots. Just as they started clanking warm up strokes off the side of a wooden storage shed adjacent to the Brookfield High field, New Milford made sure there it wouldn't come down to strokes.
Emily Sanders scored with just 1:42 remaining in the third 10-minute overtime session, ending nearly 90 minutes of scoreless field hockey, along with the Rams' season, in a 1-0 win.
New Canaan, the fifth seed in the bracket, had the better of the play in regulation, but the No. 4 Green Wave dominated in the extra play and earned a trip to the semifinals in the process. It set up a battle of Waves as the Green Wave drew the Darien Blue Wave, the top seed, in Wednesday's semifinals.
"It's tough to get to that third overtime just because the girls have no legs," New Canaan coach Erin Gildea said. "It was frustrating."
Gildea added that the Wave seemed to have more speed than her team, and that was a difference-maker in the game. "Their speed is very, very dangerous," she said.
The Wave players got behind the New Canaan defense on occasion, but Ram goaltender Emma Ball was up to the task, making a dozen saves. New Milford goalie Meegan Doris stopped 13 shots. Ball's 12 stops just weren't enough.
"You can't leave good players open and we did and she scored," Gildea said.
That said, the New Canaan coach added that it was a quality goal scored by a good team and that the Rams had plenty of reasons to hold their heads high despite coming up short.
"They should be very proud of themselves," Gildea said.
"My heart breaks for the seniors. They're such an amazing group," said Gildea, adding that there was no drama, and plenty of great attitudes among the group this fall. "I just feel they deserve more to go out on, but you don't always get what you want."
The Rams nearly did with some chances in regulation. In fact, they held a 13-7 shots on goal advantage heading into the first overtime. New Canaan couldn't muster a shot on the cage in the three overtimes but did generate some chances.
Ball made a pair of late first-overtime period saves to keep it tied. New Milford had two second-overtime penalty corners but couldn't convert thanks to strong defensive play by the Rams.
In the third overtime, the Rams seem to become rejuvenated. Bridget Falcone got the ball and used her patience to find an open Isabel Taben, who sent the ball toward the New Milford cage. Teammate Bea Eppler raced after it but the ball was just too far ahead of her and Doris kicked it away.
A Falcone steal and feed to Elizabeth Miller led to a good chance but Miller, who helped spark the offense with solid pressure, sent a hard low shot just wide.