Gaither coach Adrian Bush said his team was ready to go to overtime against Bloomingdale.
Instead, it was the other Class 4A, District 7 semifinal that went the distance.
Bush's Cowboys stopped Bloomingdale 2-0 in regulation, knocking the Bulls out of regional play for the first time in nine seasons. Meanwhile, host and top-seed Durant gave up a goal in the last 30 seconds but topped Sickles in a shootout.
"I told the team to prepare for a 100-minute game," Bush said.
Traditionally, post-season games between Gaither and Bloomingdale have gone into extra time, such as the Bulls' 1998 shootout victory.
It looked like overtime might be looming after the teams played to a scoreless tie in the first 60 minutes.
But when the Bulls (12-4-2) lost midfielder Brandon Hancock with his second yellow card, they struggled to control the midfield as they had up to that point.
In the 62nd minute, Norris Hartzog got free at the top of the box and nailed a left-footed shot past Chris Kennedy.
Things got worse for the Bulls when Yener Belli was red-carded in the 66th minute, leaving them down a man.
The Cowboys (13-3-2) capitalized in the 73rd minute when Dane Fernandez crossed to Jared Rose for the finish.
"We have the utmost respect for Bloomingdale," Bush said. "They're a class program. They've given us a model to look at, and we feel that we've built up our program to their level."
In the late game, Sickles (8-4-2) found out early that Durant goalie Blake Dickinson was "in the zone" when he tipped a point-blank shot by Brandon Streicher just over the goal. He followed that with a cat-like save on Dustin Beach's shot.
Brian Mallec's goal in the 51st minute put the Cougars up 1-0, but with 30 seconds remaining, Sickles' Brandon Streicher converted a penalty kick.
After four overtime periods, the game went to a shootout. Dickenson came up big with a save on Seth VanSteenburgen's shot and watched as Beach's shot sailed high to give the Cougars the win.
"Realistically, we should have been up 4-0 at halftime," Sickles coach Mike Rady said. "I felt like we dominated the whole game. (Dickenson) just found a way to stop us."
A-8: Berkeley has no problems
TAMPA _ Berkeley Prep wanted to make sure the first-year team became a first-round playoff casualty. Fifteen seconds into their Class A, District 8 semifinal game, the Buccaneers began to fulfill their objective.
Gerard Palacios scored the first of his three goals in the opening moments as Berkeley Prep defeated Wesley Chapel 10-0 in a game stopped in the 69th minute.
The victory sends the Buccaneers (9-14-2) into Friday's final against Tampa Catholic at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Prep. Wesley Chapel ends its first season at 0-18-1. "In all fairness, (Wesley Chapel) has a bunch of young kids," Berkeley Prep coach Dave Zimmeran said. "They played hard. But we got a good start, was able to work on a few new things and managed to get a lot of players into the match."
Palacios' first goal, a shot over the head of Tim Davis, started Berkeley's dominance. The Buccaneers held a 37-1 edge in shots as seven players scored. Justin Sachs contributed a pair of goals.
Palacios said he didn't let up despite his early success.
"We'd already beaten them twice, and everyone knows how hard it is to beat a team three times," Palacios said. "We just wanted to keep the pressure on them all night." _ DON JENSEN