Norwich - East Lyme High School survived a near sudden death experience Thursday.
The Vikings clinched the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division regular season boys' lacrosse title with a wild, 11-10 win over Norwich Free Academy in overtime.
They watched a 7-1 lead dissolve and trailed 9-8 in the fourth quarter.
Senior Liam Williams ended the thriller by scoring with 2 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the four-minute sudden death extra session.
"I'm not going to lie, I started getting nervous," Williams said of the late deficit. "You never put the belief of victory out of your mind. ... The whole team really came together and gave it their all."
The Vikings (12-3, 7-0) appeared to be on the way to nearly duplicating the teams' previous game, a 10-1 East Lyme win on April 24. Senior Chad Berry, who finished with three goals and three assists, scored his third goal to push the lead to 7-1 with 3:37 left in the second quarter.
Then a major momentum swing began with NFA senior Nate Wilson, who scored two goals in the final 19 seconds of the first half.
"We kind of let down our guard," East Lyme coach Gary Wight said. "You have to give credit to NFA."
The lethal duo of Wilson (six goals, one assist) and senior Conor O'Rourke (one goal, six assists) combined to produce five goals, including two in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 7-5.
By the time the fourth quarter started, NFA was in full attack mode. Meanwhile, goalie Evan Callahan stabilized the defense by making a couple of stellar saves.
Trailing 8-5, the Wildcats (13-3, 6-2) scored four straight goals in two minutes. O'Rourke's strike handed them their first lead, 9-8, with 8:35 remaining.
"They're the masters of momentum," Williams said. "You've just got to be ready for that."
The Vikings regained their composure and the lead when juniors Andrew Bernard and Mitchell Andres (three goals) scored six seconds apart for a 10-9 edge with 2:43 left.
Wilson scored from close range with 1:15 remaining to force overtime.
A slashing penalty gave NFA a man-advantage situation early in overtime but the Vikings stiffened on defense just as they did when playing shorthanded to start the second half.
Given another opportunity, East Lyme produced the game-winner. Junior Nick Geary set up Williams, who fired through traffic to end it. Williams also had three assists and senior Mac Brodaski added a goal and four assists.
"We've got a lot of weapons and fortunately we were able to pull it out," Wight said.
NFA is hoping for another shot at East Lyme in the ECC tournament.
"It hurts a little and I know it hurts the guys," NFA coach Kyle Legnos said of the loss. "They played their butts off, so it hurts them more than me. I just hope we get another chance to play them."