That determination translated into a thrilling 13-12 come-from-behind victory for top-seeded Chatham over second-seeded and defending champion Mendham on Saturday, May 12.
Senior midfielder Jaclyn Leto scored the last three goals for the Cougars, including the gamewinner with 14 seconds left. Lauren Maiorano assisted on the decisive score. Leto, named the Most Valuable Player, did all of her scoring in the second half and ended with four goals.
"It's unbelievable," said Leto, while still catching her breath from the frantic finish. "Winning is a surreal feeling. Coming into the season, it was our goal to get back to this game. We wanted to beat Mendham like they beat us. This means so much."
Chatham (17-2) did not hold the lead until Leto, tightly marked by Mendham's Mariah Salerno, converted after 49 minutes and 46 seconds of play. Thirteen seconds before firing in the winning goal, Leto, headed to Dartmouth University in the fall, converted a pass by Kate Murphy to pull the Cougars even, 12-12.
"I was trying to get a good, quick first step and an area where my stick could be open for a feed," said Leto, explaining how she got herself into position to register Chatham's lucky 13th goal.
Aly Messinger hit the back of the net with 1:28 remaining to put Mendham (15-4) ahead, 12-11.
The Cougars, down 6-3 at halftime, outscored the Minutemen 5-1 over the last 6:51 of the game. Besides Leto, Mary Kate O'Neill and Kallan Murray, who had a hat trick, sent the ball into the net while under immense pressure.
"Turnovers and 50-50s helped us," Leto said. "We knew we weren't going to lose. We were going to do whatever it took. There may have been a few moments when we got down on ourselves but we had faith in each other. No matter what the deficit, we thought there was a possibility."
Farmakis, a tri-captain, was on the sideline as the seconds ticked off the clock, having received a card for pushing. She got a yellow card with a little more than two minutes left. Having to watch was agonizing yet she too felt Chatham, which claimed its third MCT crown in five years, would get the job done.
"I was freaking out," Farmakis said. "I really thought we could do it. We never gave up. We have so much hustle, drive and passion."
O'Neill, the first player to score for Chatham, had two goals. Natalie Washuta, Kelsey Perselay, Kate Murphy and Liz Hyde contributed one goal apiece for the winners. Goalie Hannah Reader had six saves.
Messinger, Mendham's standout, turned in another superb effort, posting six goals, including four in the second half. Maggie Sinzer chipped in with a pair of goals for the Minutemen.
Mendham goalie Abby Witczak came up big several times late in the game, making saves on shots taken at close range. Witczak had eight saves.
The victory, of course, brought great satisfaction to Chatham, which was denied by Mendham in the 2011 MCT final.
"This is an absolutely unbelievable experience," Farmakis said. "I'm so happy."