Ninety-two seconds into the second sudden-death overtime, senior Allan Zullinger's shot whistled into the net. The goal gave the Stone Bridge boys' lacrosse team an 8-7 victory Thursday over AA Dulles District rival Loudoun Valley and sparked a celebration normally reserved for playoff wins, not season openers.
Coach Brent Miller danced a mini-jig before congratulating his assistant coaches.
Zullinger was swarmed by teammates as they reveled in the climactic victory. That mob turned into a pile at midfield in Stone Bridge's stadium as players climbed atop each other to celebrate.
"It was really intense," said Zullinger, who had two goals and two assists. "It felt like a district playoff game. There was a lot of intensity. The crowd was getting into it. It really felt like a playoff game."
Loudoun Valley won two of three meetings with Stone Bridge a year ago, including an 11-10 decision in a one-game playoff that resulted in a Region II berth for the Vikings.
Throughout most of Thursday night's game, Loudoun Valley (1-1) was on pace to continue its mastery over the Bulldogs, taking a 6-4 lead into the fourth quarter.
But Stone Bridge (1-0) scored three consecutive goals -- by Drew Dunn, Paul Gerardi and Chris Quigley -- to take the lead late in the game until Loudoun Valley junior midfielder Alex Fleming scored with 3 minutes 37 seconds remaining to force overtime.
Both teams then had good chances to win, but their goaltenders made crucial saves. Connor Donovan made eight saves for Loudoun Valley, and Stone Bridge's Joe Schmidt finished with 12, including two in overtime.
"We had a bad taste in our mouth at the end of last season," Miller said. "Our seniors really wanted this game, and they really showed it in the second half."
The girls' game lacked similar drama but featured two teams likely to figure in the playoff race later in the season. Seniors Mairi Kincaid and Lauren Vlad and sophomore Anna Condon each scored twice for Loudoun Valley in a 9-5 win.
"It's nice to have that security, to have good players all around you," Condon said. "It shocks the other teams when we're all good. We have some star players, but we all have an impact."
Loudoun Valley (2-0) had defeated easily Liberty earlier in the week and appeared to be cruising toward another lopsided victory, leading, 5-0, with 13:24 left in the first half. After a timeout, Stone Bridge (1-1) regrouped and scored twice before halftime. Then sophomore Kristen Stupay scored early in the second half to cut the Vikings' lead to two goals.
Senior Amy Norman and sophomore Angela Naso each scored later in the half for the Bulldogs, but they never came any closer than two goals.
"This was only our second game of the season," Norman said, "and we're not ready for that fast-paced a game yet."
Stone Bridge defeated Loudoun Valley last year during the regular season, and the Bulldogs are confident they can challenge the Vikings this spring.
"That's what we told the team: 'We did it once, we can do it again,' " Norman said. "This is definitely a rivalry, and we wanted this game so bad. But I think for the second game of the season, it was all right."