Measured by the efforts against a single powerful foe, the Cazenovia girls soccer team has come a long way in just the span of a month.
The Lakers' second regular-season duel with Marcellus last Tuesday afternoon turned into a wind-swept ordeal where the three-time defending Class B champion Mustangs had to work hard to give Cazenovia its first home defeat of the season, 3-2.
When they had met the first time, on Sept. 22 in Marcellus, the Mustangs scored twice in the game's first three minutes and blew out the Lakers 5-0, the last time anyone had really harmed Cazenovia in that way.
Nothing would be so easy in the rematch, mostly because of the conditions at the Fenner Road complex. Rain fell sideways and a fierce southern wind never dropped below 30 miles an hour, giving each team a distinct advantage for half the contest.
With the gale at its back in the first half, Cazenovia played on fairly even terms, unleashing a series of attacks and forcing the Mustangs to use more defenders than normal.
Still, Marcellus grabbed a 1-0 edge when, 10:14 into the game, Rachel Farneti kept the corner kick low and fed it to Bridget Dooley, whose hard shot got under the wind and beat Claire Dorsey.
When the second half, it was the Lakers' turn to face the gusts, and it still attacked. In the 50th minute, Chelsea McKillop, off a feed from the right by Kassie Kleine, headed it past Lauren Fletcher, tying it at 1-1.
Less than five minutes later, the conditions aided the Mustangs in a big way, as Farneti's shot from 30 yards out caught the jet stream, picked up speed, and slipped out of Dorsey's hands into the net.
Sarah Holden scored shortly after to make it 3-1, but the Lakers didn't quit, cutting it to one on Kleine's goal, fed by Kara Cannizzaro, with 4:24 left. Marcellus used its trademark possession skills to run out the clock and hang on.
Still, the defeat marked a stark contrast with the September rout, giving Cazenovia a hope that, if it met Marcellus again in the playoffs, it could have a chance to win.