Throughout this season, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys soccer team has made up for its offensive struggles by showing an innate ability to shut people down.
This surfaced again last Wednesday afternoon, when the Red Rams put together a 1-0 victory over East Syracuse-Minoa.
In the 27th minute, Nick Cava broke up the scoreless game when he scored off a feed from Matt Natoli. Now, it was up to the Rams' defense to hold that lead.
J-D would do so, as Tim Kendrick, Mike Lickstein, John Clark and the rest of the Rams' back line held ESM to just five shots, all scooped up by goalie Jamie Kogut.
In a non-league game at Central Square last Monday night, the Spartans found itself on the defensive through much of a 2-0 loss to the Red Hawks.
With its class AA pedigree, Central Square abused John Albanese throughout the contest, and he had to make 16 saves to keep it close.
ESM had plenty of its own opportunities, but ran into a hot goalie in Colin Desmond, who turned away all 14 shots he faced.
Paul Gerber emerged with both of the Red Hawks' goals, and both times, Travis Cleavenger emerged with assists.
Both teams would see action on Friday afternoon -- and both would get quality wins, the Spartans upsetting Fulton 3-2, the Red Rams topping Cortland 2-1.
ESM would hang with the reigning state Class A co-champions all game long, then pull in front when Zach Johnson poured in the go-ahead goal late in regulation off a feed from Ben Rowell.
Much of the game belonged to Rowell, who also assisted on tallies by Stelan Music and Adam Vlassis. Albanese made a difference, too, recording nine saves.
Across town, J-D played Cortland to a 0-0 first-half draw, then got on the board with Daniel Perl's unassisted goal.
Dan Leonard would answer for the Purple Tigers, but with 5:11 left in regulation, Perl got open again and, off a feed from Max Bobyricki, put in the game-winner.
The Red Rams (7-4-1) would get its own shot at Fulton on Thursday before a tough non-league game Saturday against Skaneateles, the state's no. 2-ranked Class B team.
As for ESM (7-6, 4-5 league), it made a Tuesday trip to Mexico and is back home Wednesday night to face Class C power Faith Heritage.