It took the full course of the regular season for the Skaneateles boys soccer team to finally get topped -- and it took the team's biggest rival to pull it off.
Marcellus, frustrated for years in its attempts to beat the Lakers, did so Monday night on its own home turf, pulling out a scintillating 2-1 decision that vaulted the Mustangs into first place in the OHSL Liberty division and ended the Lakers' 14-game unbeaten streak.
The deep feelings of this rivalry grew even deeper in 2004. In the regular season, Skaneateles beat Marcellus once and tied the Mustangs in the other head-to-head meeting. But the Lakers were knocked out early in the Section III Class B playoffs -- and Marcellus went on to win a state championship.
When they reunited on Sept. 5, Skaneateles dominated the flow of play and won easily, 4-1, exposing a raw and inexperienced Marcellus defense still trying to replace all the vital parts from its '04 title run.
As the Lakers rolled along, the Mustangs got healthy and got organized, then started to win with regularity. All the while, it lusted to finally beat their neighbors -- but a chance to do so Sept. 28 got rained out.
The 18-day delay only added to the game's importance. As the night began, Skaneateles was 8-0-1 in league play, Marcellus 8-1. They had pulled away from the rest of the Liberty division field. Now, it was time to settle things.
But the first half settled nothing, except the fact that the Mustangs' defense fared much better in handling the vaunted Skaneateles attack. Head coach Jennifer Griffin said that back-line players Brian Walter, Pat Delaney and Tom Forte stood out in deflecting away the numerous Laker assaults.
In the 21st minute, Skaneateles earned a free kick on the right side. Jesse Carr bent it beautifully -- but the shot hit the right post. At the break, it was 0-0.