UPPER DUBLIN — It was a gorgeous stretch of lacrosse.
Eight straight goals in a 13:14 span, excellent defense, clutch goaltending.
But when it ended, all host Upper Dublin High's girls lacrosse team had was a one-goal lead late in the second half.
So that when foe Central Bucks South forced overtime and won the game, 10-9, just 34 seconds into extra time, all the Cardinals could do was reflect on a lethargic first half that put them behind, and a comeback that was merely a footnote to their fifth straight loss.
Emily Cliggett converted an Upper Dublin turnover into the winning goal, so instead of rejoicing over their incredible comeback, the Cardinals could only hope it was the beginning of something positive in the immediate future.
"We were hoping to win this one,' said Cardinals midfielder Taylor D'Ginto, who had three goals in the run that blew up a Titans 8-1 lead and put Upper Dublin on top, 9-8 with 6:03 left in the second half. "We've had a tough four games coming into this one, and we really needed this game to kind of pick us up.
"We just came out slowly. We wanted to come out and play with intensity, but in that first half we looked like we were dead. It wasn't fatigue, we just lacked intensity.'
The first half was hard to watch for the Upper Dublin faithful.
After Julie Cross knotted the game at 1 off a free position a little over 5:00 in, the visitors took complete control.
With Courtney Dietzel winning draw after draw, the Titans owned the ball and swarmed the Upper Dublin net, scoring the final six goals of the first half.
Dietzel had three goals and Sarah Poli added three assists as South went into the break seemingly in full control of the game.
"We had a great game against Conestoga,' said Upper Dublin head coach Dee Cross, referring to Monday's 14-12 setback to the Pioneers. "I don't know why we came out so slowly.
"When you dig yourself a hole like that it's hard to dig out.'
One more shovel of dirt was thrown in the Cardinals' faces when Cliggett scored 2:34 into the second half to push the Titans lead to 8-1.
But somehow, the Cardinals suddenly came to life.
Cross got it going with another free-position tally, and the rally had officially been triggered.
Dom Greene-Colem made it 8-3 a little more than 2:00 later, and the Cardinals could feel it.
"Once we began getting goal after goal, we realized we were in the game,' D'Ginto said. "We knew the game should have been ours.'
"Once they turned it on,' Cross said, "they turned it on.'
A D'Ginto goal coming out from behind the net tied it at 8 with 6:14 left. Cross streaked in off the ensuing draw to put the Cardinals in front for the first time, 9-8, just 11 seconds later.
But the Cardinals would not score again.
Cliggett's goal at the 4:11 mark tied it. And after Upper Dublin failed to convert its next scoring opportunity, South held the ball for a final shot.
That opportunity went awry, the Cardinals' last-second chance was thwarted by a Titans foul and it was on to overtime.
Upper Dublin won the draw to begin the extra session, but an unforced turnover gave South possession.
Cliggett went right to the Cardinals net and slipped home the game winner.
And all Upper Dublin could do was look back on a disappointing first half, and a disappointing start to the season.
"We have a very tough non-league schedule, and that's what we wanted,' Cross said. "But then Kayla (defender Kayla McAneney) got hurt and a couple of girls didn't come out for the team.
"This is a very different situation than we're used to being in.'
"We're going to go to practice,' D'Ginto said, "and work hard on what we're lacking.'
FREE POSITIONS: Upper Dublin outshot South, 23-19. ... South goaltender Erin Putnam had eight saves, Upper Dublin's Sarah Gallagher had six. ... South's Dietzel and Cliggett had three goals apiece while Cross led Upper Dublin with four goals and three assists. ... UD defender Alycia Hildebrand went down with an injury to her right ankle in the second half and did not return.