Over the years, the Marcellus boys lacrosse team has strove to pull itself up to the elite level that its most bitter rival, Skaneateles, has always enjoyed.
And the Mustangs got another shot at the Lakers last Thursday night, only to see its offense disappear for a large portion of the first half, the decisive factor as Skaneateles prevailed, 10-5.
Right from the opening faceoff, the Lakers' defense, led by Win Wickwire, Jordan Markley, Will Kraus and Brendan Buell, zeroed in on Marcellus attackers like Kevin Merriman, Sean Connors and Mike McSweeney.
By keeping that Mustangs trio from getting established in the early going (and with Josh Kimm getting 10 saves), Skaneateles allowed plenty of time for its own offense to flourish. A patient, steady attack produced a 6-1 halftime lead.
That margin would hold up the rest of the way. Even though the Lakers cooled off a bit, its good work on the other end assured that Marcellus could not catch up.
Merriman had to fight hard for his two goals and one assists, as McSweeney and Connors were held to single goals, joining Evan Hughes in that category.
Combined, Mustang goalies Marcus Giarusso and Marshall Merritt had 13 saves, but the Lakers negated that effort in a methodical way.
Jeff Donigan and Devin Lynch each registered three-goal hat tricks. Eric Richards matched their output with two goals and two assists, as Scott Castle got one goal and one assist and Jon Dalpos also found the net.
After two consecutive one-goal defeats, the Mustangs briefly broke out of that skid last Tuesday with a hard-fought 9-6 victory over Westhill.
A quick start helped, as Marcellus blanked the Warriors until the second quarter. And when Westhill closed within one (4-3) at halftime, the Mustangs used a 4-1 spurt in the third period to build a winning margin.
McSweeney burned the Warriors often, scoring four times and adding an assist. Jeff Watson offered further help with two goals and one assist, while Hughes, Connors and Josh Ginestro each found the net once. Merriman added an assist.