Back at the start of this decade, the Westhill girls soccer team made a good living out of winning big games against the Marcellus Mustangs.
So it seemed like old times Tuesday night when, at Solvay's Earl Hadley Stadium, the Warriors stunned the three-time defending champion Mustangs, 1-0, in the Section III Class B semifinals.
"To ever beat them, it's just a joy for us," said head coach Lisa Dwyer. "I'm so proud of them for their effort."
This was the fourth time Westhill had met Marcellus this season, the most recent a 2-0 Warriors defeat in a monsoon-like rain on Oct. 19, and the familiarity with the Mustangs' methods had a great deal to do with this outcome.
Dwyer said the key for the Warriors' defense was to keep the potent Marcellus attack from occupying the middle and possessing the ball.
So any time they could, back-line players like Alex Root, Meghan Lingenfelter, Jenna Martens and Liz Coholan would clear by going to the wings, where the Mustangs could be less effective. This worked throughout a scoreless first half as the Warriors' effort surpassed that of Marcellus on a consistent basis.
Early in the second half, Westhill got the dash of luck it needed. Left open in front, Deana Melnyczuk ripped a shot that hit the left post, and the rebound to a wide-open net was hit wide.
Relieved, Westhill resumed its clearing tactics, and also made its share of attacks, though Lauren Fletcher (who had six saves) and the rest of the Mustangs' defense handled most of those rushes.
But with 10:16 left, the Warriors had a three-on-two break. On the far left, Bridgette Dwyer intended to cross, but her curving pass turned into a shot that eluded Fletcher and found the top right corner of the net.
Down a goal, Marcellus staged an all-out push in the last minutes, but Westhill held on, turning away a series of corner kicks to produce its biggest win in five years.
Westhill now turns to face Cazenovia in the Class B final at SUNY-Cortland after those Lakers beat the other Lakers from Skaneateles, 2-1, in the other semifinal match.