The many months of preparations, 16 matches leading up to this moment... everything was on the line last Friday evening at Weston High School.

For the New Milford High School field hockey team, and for arch-rival Pomperaug, the South-West Conference championship game serves nearly every autumn as the measuring stick of success.

On this occasion, coach Dawn Hough's talented NMHS stick crew came up short, if only by such a small margin.

The Panthers of veteran coach Linda Dirga shoved home the match's only goal at 3:36 of sudden-death overtime to regain an SWC title wrested from their grasp in 2009 by the Green Wave.

"Our league is very tough and we knew it was going to take a really good game to win it," said coach Hough.

Nonetheless, the defeat fell hard on the top-seeded NMHS girls, who had split their regular-season series with the Panthers en route to an overall 12-1-2.

The Green Wave beat Bethel, 3-0, and New Fairfield, 1-0 in overtime, to advance to the SWC title match.

In all, NMHS carried a 14-2-2 record into state class `L' tournament action.

The Green Wave earned a fourth seed in the `L' field and was set Wednesday to host 13th-ranked Hall of West Hartford in a first-round match at NMHS.

The winner will take on either fifth-seeded South Windsor or 12th-seeded Greenwich in quarterfinals slated today (Friday) at a site to be determined.

-- Norm Cummings