MONROE -- In the first overtime period, the Masuk girls soccer team began to celebrate like it had beaten Watertown.
It was a perfectly reasonable reaction ... except for the mildly inconvenient fact that Jamie Madden's would-be winner was waved off by the linesman for offside.
In the second overtime period -- only minutes away from penalty kicks -- Emily Montgomery left nothing to chance, scoring on an expertly struck free kick to lift the Panthers to a 1-0 victory Wednesday afternoon in the Class L quarterfinals.
"I just tried to aim in the top corner because the goalie was kind of shorter," Montgomery said. "I aimed it and it went in."
The game-deciding goal started off innocuously enough, with a ball hopping up off the Benedict Field turf into the arm of a Watertown defender on the edge of the right penalty area. Montgomery lined up her shot and it had enough pace on it to sail over the head of Indians keeper Ariana Hoxha into the upper left corner of the net with barely three minutes left on the clock.
"Unfortunately, it came down to a call that was a game-decider, a direct kick right outside the box that was beautifully placed," Watertown coach Lisa Mariano said.
It sets up Masuk to play No. 1 East Lyme in Saturday's semifinal at a site and time to be determined.
Montgomery's goal was a moment of individual brilliance in a hard-fought contest. Both the No. 4 Panthers and No. 5 Indians had numerous chances to score, only to be undone by poor finishing. For instance, both sides hit the crossbar in overtime.
"We had all these opportunities, we couldn't finish," Montgomery said. "We were kind of frenzied all game."
Watertown nearly won it in the 76th minute when Lilyann Cotas broke in free on Masuk keeper Megan Fitzgerald. Her low shot ended up going directly into Fitzgerald's arms. It was a rare instance when anyone on Watertown could get behind Masuk sweeper Diana Antenucci, who left the game late in overtime due to cramps.
Masuk (15-3-2), if not for Montgomery's late heroics, might have rued not going ahead 1-0 or 2-0 in the first half with the amount of chances it produced throughout. The Panthers seemed poised to score from a scramble in the box following a corner, only for the Indians to hoof it clear.
Madden also had an a golden chance late in the half, only for Hoxha to dive to tip it away.
Masuk thought Madden had won it for them two minutes into the first overtime, but she was ruled to have started her run from an offside position. Most players -- as well as the Masuk fans -- began to celebrate. The Panthers, though, didn't show any letdown and kept pressing the action until Montgomery's eventual winner.
"My kids dug deep and kept hanging in there," Masuk coach Eleanor Brainard said. "They knew what they had to do."
Class L quarterfinals
WATERTOWN 0 0 0 0--0
MASUK 0 0 0 1--1
Records: Watertown 14-5; Masuk 15-3-2; Goals: M--Emily Montgomery; Goalies: W--Ariana Hoxha (9 saves); M--Megan Fitzgerald (4).