For the Greenwich Academy lacrosse team, the first half of Tuesday's Fairchester Athletic Association championship game was all about building up a lead.
The second half was all about preserving it.
In yet another thrill-a-minute showdown between crosstown rivals for the league crown, top-seeded Greenwich Academy held off a serious challenge from third-seeded Convent of the Sacred Heart and pulled out a 12-9 victory in a steady rain at Tammaro Field for its 27th FAA title in 29 years.
It was the second three-goal difference between the perennial league powers this spring.
"The kids have been terrific and this is just a great way to end the season," said legendary coach Angela Tammaro, who guided her squad to an 18-2 record and an undefeated mark in the FAA. "Unfortunately we started making some mistakes and momentum can be a hard thing to get back in these kids of games, but we did enough to get the title back. The girls should feel very proud of themselves."
The Tigers, who won the league championship last year and are the only team other than GA to have an FAA crown in its trophy case, trailed 9-4 at the intermission before mounting a furious rally.
CSH (12-6) would make it a 10-9 game and had three golden opportunities to tie it up, but GA goalie Liv Tapsall -- who made 11 saves, including six straight down the stretch -- stopped a free position by Maggie Annecchino before Mo Leitner and Allie Kenny each hit the crossbar during a wild sequence.
Less than a minute later, senior Marisa Noto scored her fourth goal of the contest off a pass from Lexie Henkel (one goal, two assists) for an 11-9 cushion at the 3:37 mark.
Senior Anne Gilliand would ice the victory with 1:32 remaining, and moments later, midfield was a sea of jubilant green and gold.
"Throughout the year we've been a resilient team that is able to regroup and overcome the odds against us," said GA senior co-captain Kara Sperry, who headlined the defensive effort along with Mary Taussig, Kiera Schott, Emma Olney, Izzy Viola and Maggie Schmidt. "You've got to give (CSH) props, but our goal was to regain the FAA title and it feels awesome to do that."
Emilia Tapsall finished with a hat trick and one assist for the Gators, while Emily Conway was another catalyst to the victory with one goal and three assists. Taussig and Annie DeFrino also tallied.
Tapsall also have five draw controls as GA won 15 of the game's 23 face-offs. The Gators possessed 20 groundballs as well, and caused 15 turnovers.
"We can ask for much more than this," Henkel said. "It was a total team effort in every sense."
Alli Sciarretta had a hat trick for the Tigers, who led 2-1 before GA scored five straight goals to take take command in the first half.
Colleen O'Neill added two goals in the loss, while four other players (Leitner, Annecchino, Taylor Ryan and Catherine hayed) also scored for CSH. Maddie Pillari stopped seven shots.
"We really turned into a second half team and I'm so proud of the girls," CSH coach Courtney DePeter said. "They left it all on the table, we just came up a little bit short against a great team."