The gut feeling Cocalico girls' soccer coach Dan Hogan had back in March was validated Tuesday afternoon with a feeling of a different kind: that of ice-cold water running down his back, compliments of his players.
Getting the gamewinner from Kathleen Lawver with just over 18:00 left in the match, Cocalico (12-1-1 L-L, 13-1-1 overall) clinched the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three title with a 2-1 victory over Donegal (10-4, 10-4) in Mount Joy.
It was the first section crown (boys or girls) in the history of the Eagles' soccer program, which began for both boys and girls in 1991, according to Hogan.
"I thought we had a lot of talent (coming into the season)," said Hogan, shortly after his players emptied the water jug over his head in celebration. "It was just a matter of how well we played together and how healthy we stayed."
Fortunately for Cocalico, neither of those concerns turned out to be an issue.
In fact, able to steer clear of injuries all season, Cocalico Tuesday fielded the same lineup for the 13th straight game. That all but one of those players have started since they were freshmen also went a long way for the Eagles in the chemistry department.
"We're experienced, we're healthy and, once in a while, we were lucky," Hogan said with a grin.
After an uneventful first half Tuesday, luck found the Eagles again about 12:00 after halftime, when Lawver tracked down a ball on the right side of the box and found herself in a one-on-one situation with Donegal goalie Kaitlyn Scheuing.
As Scheuing made a sliding attempt to clear the play, Lawver chipped a shot that ricocheted off the left post and off the leg of Indians defender Elizabeth Mummau, who unintentionally redirected it into the left side of the net for a 1-0 Cocalico lead.
"We tell our defenders to get back and support the goalkeeper, we want them back there," Donegal coach Scott Steffen said. "That was just unfortunate."
But 10 minutes later, Lawver created her own fortune to double the Eagles' edge.
After Brooke Burkholder sent a centering pass from the right side to Lawver at the top of the box, Lawver one-timed it out of the air with her right foot and sent a bullet inside the left post for a 2-0 Cocalico lead.
But instead of deflating Donegal, the goal seemed to ignite the Indians, who went on the offensive the rest of the way.
Kristen Stark started Donegal's comeback bid with just over 10:00 remaining in the match, when she put away the leftovers of a mishandled cleanup attempt by Cocalico goalie Kristen Boyer to cut the lead to 2-1.
But for a huge save by Boyer on a dangerous blast from Stark just over a minute later, the Indians might have tied it.
"We were pushing, we had some good pressure," said Steffen. "But to give (Cocalico) credit, they didn't get to be section champs without playing good defense."
Still, despite the loss, Donegal has plenty to play for.
Clinging to a one-point lead over Manheim Central (9-3-2, 10-4-2), the Indians would have to beat Northern Lebanon (5-9, 5-11) in their regular-season finale Thursday to secure the section's second and final L-L playoff berth - should the Barons get past Lebanon (1-14, 2-14) Thursday.
"This (loss) makes Thursday uberimportant," Steffen said.
As Tuesday was for Cocalico, from a historical standpoint.