The final five minutes and 54 seconds seemed to take forever. San Ramon Valley High's boys lacrosse team was clinging to a 5-4 lead over De La Salle on Friday night in the North Coast Section Division I championship game at Dublin High, and the Wolves were hanging on by a thread.
"Oh, God, that was an eternity," San Ramon Valley's Michael Tagliaferri said. "You think it's OK, five minutes, we got this, we just need one possession, but that's the longest five minutes of your entire life right there. It feels the best when it's over."
It did feel that way for the Wolves, who were able to hang on and win the title. Tagliaferri was a big part of the reason why with two goals and an assist.
Another reason was goalkeeper Cameron Bowlby, who had seven saves. But maybe the biggest reason was Jackson Brown, who took a pass from Austin French with just two seconds to go in the first half and put the ball past Payden Dickerson for a goal that tied the game at 2-2.
"That was huge for our confidence," Tagliaferri said.
The Wolves (20-3) took a 5-3 lead with 6:06 to go in the third quarter but never scored again. When the Spartans (16-7) got a goal from Jack McCormick with 5:54 remaining in the game, that turned the pressure up on San Ramon Valley.
Peter Tagliaferri added two goals for the Wolves. Four Spartans scored goals.
Carondelet 21, Amador Valley 12: Cali Castagnola
Castagnola finished with four goals and two assists for Carondelet, which captured its second straight section title.
"I was just pumped up to win, and we needed to get ahead," Castagnola said. "It feels great. We worked hard all season. A lot of running. But it paid off."
The Cougars (21-2) were leading 3-2 when Castagnola started her spurt with 15 minutes, 23 seconds left in the first half. Amador Valley's Jackie Gilbert answered with a nice goal off a length of the field attack just 22 seconds later. But Castagnola popped two more into the net for a 6-3 lead. It started an 8-2 run for Carondelet.
Erin Jeffery had three goals and an assist for the Cougars, who lost to the Dons 9-8 on March 16 in an East Bay Athletic League game. Carondelet won the teams' second meeting 20-10 on April 20 and went on to capture the league title.
Evan Murphy helped Amador Valley get back in the game with two goals and an assist late in the first half to cut the margin to 13-8 at the break. But the Dons (18-5) could never get closer than five goals the rest of the way.
Justine Chinn led Amador Valley with four goals.
Campolindo d. Dougherty Valley: When head coach David Chen and assistant John Vuong took over the Cougars' program five years ago and went 5-17 in the first season, they couldn't have foreseen winning back-to-back NCS Division II titles just four years later.
But that is what happened after No. 2 Campolindo (29-7) topped fourth-seeded Dougherty Valley (22-13) 25-14, 25-16, 25-14.
"There's no way we expected this," Chen said. "We just wanted them to compete and see what it was like to play in front of a big crowd."
The Cougars played well in front of their home crowd and set the tone early by putting up a big block to slow down Chris Nelson of the Wildcats, coming up with nine blocks in the first game and 15 for the match. Nelson had 31 kills in Wednesday night's semifinal upset of top-seeded Sir Francis Drake-San Anselmo.
"We're a small team, so we have to put pressure on hitters with two or three blockers," Chen said. "We were very disciplined tonight and everybody supported each other."
Will Henrickson led the Cougars with 15 kills, and Ryan First and Stephen Buhl combined for 12 kills and eight big blocks.
Nelson finished the match with 14 kills to lead Dougherty Valley. It was the first boys team from the San Ramon school to advance to a section final in a team sport.
-- Matt Smith, correspondent