Sarah Pasternak crumbled to the ground and stayed there for nearly a minute Friday afternoon.
Brookfield Central girls soccer coach Dan Makal spotted his goalie in distress and raced to her side. The rest of the Lancers were equally distraught.
Top-ranked Brookfield Central believed this was its best chance to win a WIAA Division 1 state title since the 2005 Lancers hoisted gold. But No. 2 Divine Savior Holy Angels had different ideas.
The state's top two teams played to a 1-1 draw in a strange sectional semifinal contest that began Thursday, was postponed by lightning and completed on Friday. The Dashers then prevailed in a battle of penalty kicks, 7-6.
The Dashers, who have yet to lose to a team from Wisconsin, improved to 15-6-2 and face Neenah in a sectional final Saturday at 3 p.m. at Arrowhead. Brookfield Central ended its year 15-0-3.
The game took 22 hours, 21 minutes in real time to complete. Afterwards, many were wondering how — and why — the state's top two teams were meeting in the Round of 16.
'When you have the top two teams in the state, it's always fun to play,' said Lancers sophomore midfielder Brandi Thomsen. 'But at the same time, it'd be nice if the No. 1 and No. 2 teams met for the state championship. So it's disappointing, but at the same time, we had to come out here and do what we can.'
DSHA coach Kevin Roethe agreed.
'It's tough,' Roethe said. 'Brookfield Central had a great season. To have your first loss of the season come at this time is tough.
'That's a very talented team at Central, and they're very young. So that's a team that's going to be dominant for the next couple years and they're going to have another chance. A lot of bright futures on their side.'
That didn't ease the pain Friday night, though.
The game was stopped in the 103rd minute Thursday night when lightning lingered for more than an hour in the Brookfield area. When play resumed Friday, there was 7:25 left in the second overtime, and neither team scored.
Each team then designated five players to take one penalty kick, and every girl converted. Both sides then appointed a sixth kicker, and those girls scored, as well.
Brookfield Central's seventh kicker missed, though. And when DSHA junior defender Leah Kostos sent a blast to the right corner of the net, the Dashers were off to the sectional final, and the Lancers were headed home.
'This was probably the greatest group of kids I've ever coached, top to bottom,' Lancers coach Dan Makal said. 'Just great personalities, great kids. They wanted to do more for the team and as individuals. Just great kids.'
Central was in control much of the game after Thomsen scored in the seventh minute.
Thomsen took a feed from sophomore midfielder Sarah Knopp, then bent home a rocket from 25 yards away to give Brookfield Central a 1-0 lead.
'It was kind of slow motion,' Thomsen said. 'After that, we really wanted another one. You're always pushing for another goal when you're up, 1-0. Your best defense is your offense.'
The Lancers never could score again, though. DSHA evened things in the 66th minute when senior midfielder Emily Crevoiserat converted a free kick from the right hash mark, 50 yards out.
Crevoiserat's shot landed five yards in front of Pasternak, who misplayed the hop. The ball then bounced up and over Pasternak's head, and into the back of the net to even things, 1-1.
Neither team scored again in this battle of heavyweights. After the Dashers prevailed on penalty kicks, the Lancers were a stunned bunch.
'This was just exhausting, more mental than physical,' Thomsen said. 'It's tough. These guys are my family, and we have something special.'
The Lancers, who tied with DSHA for the Greater Metro Conference title, could have something special again in 2017. Central started six sophomores, two freshmen and loses just five seniors.
'We're blessed that we're so young and so talented,' Makal said. 'I'm excited for the future. But obviously, I'm going to desperately miss this team.'