As if going up against a state championship favorite was not difficult enough for the Baldwinsville girls lacrosse team, it went in without a familiar sideline presence.
Back in March, the school district suspended head coach Doug Rowe, not allowing him to return to the team until the middle of this month. His first game coaching the Bees will come April 17, against Corcoran.
Before that, though, the Bees had a lot to get through -- five games, to be exact, all on the road, with Lionel Brown leading the team in Rowe's absence.
The first of those road trips came last Tuesday night, at West Genesee, and the Wildcats gradually wore down the Bees in a 13-3 defeat.
For a half, B'ville slowed it down and had the tempo where it wanted. But a 4-2 deficit grew in the second half as WG used its speed, aggression and depth to pull away.
In defeat, Quincy Spagnoletti scored twice and Emily Maguire had the Bees' other goal. Amanda Caloia finished with 10 saves. For the Wildcats, Bekah Elmer (three goals) and Kiersten Tupper (two goals, two assists) led the attack.
Not having a head coach was enough of a challenge -- and B'ville had to go play Liverpool Thursday night in bone-chilling conditions.
Here, it proved to be tight, but the Bees fell again, this time by a score of 8-7.
That it got so close was a tribute to B'ville's heart and character. Liverpool threatened to make it a runaway, blazing to a 7-2 lead by halftime, and with the snow flying, it would have been very easy to despair.
But the Bees didn't do that. Instead, it ate into most of that deficit and came close to forcing overtime. Maguire led the rally, with a three-goal hat trick, while Narissa Barzee had two goals. Spagnoletti and Jen Fabian each had single tallies.
Liverpool got much of its muscle from Tricia Hurley, who piled up four goals and two assists. Amanda Pollock and Jennifer VanderMeulen (two assists) each had two goals.
Now the Bees went on the road, for two games on Long Island plus a Saturday trip to Vestal before returning to league play April 17 against Corcoran -- when Rowe is slated to return.