Jun 04, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Less than 18 minutes showed on the clock in last Saturday’s Class C regional final, and the Skaneateles girls lacrosse team was seeing its dream of a third consecutive state championship melt away on the turf of SUNY-Cortland.
Corning East was up 9-5 on the Lakers, a position no one other than Class A power West Genesee had enjoyed on Skaneateles all spring. Combine that fact with the 90-degree heat, and discouragement would not be difficult to generate.
But these are the Skaneateles Lakers, after all. When put in difficult spots in the recent past, it answered with majesty — and it would do so again here.
Dominating down the stretch, Skaneateles reeled off seven unanswered goals and beat the Trojans, 12-9, setting up a return trip to Cortland for this weekend’s state final four.
The rally brought back memories of last year’s state final, on this same field (though in much colder conditions), when the Lakers rallied down the stretch to beat Penn Yan.
This was a matchup of the state’s top two ranked Class C teams. Skaneateles was on top, of course, but Corning East was no. 2, having rattled off a 19-1 record. It was a new foe for the Lakers, since the Trojans had made numerous final four trips in Class B before getting moved down prior to the 2007 season.
Three days removed from getting 19 goals against CBA in a high-scoring Section III Class C final (see related story), Skaneateles knew Corning East was dead-set on preventing such a shootout — and for the most part, it did.
Ainsley Baker, a senior bound for the University of Virginia, claimed most of the early draws, allowing the Trojans plenty of possession time in the first half and a chance to control the tempo. By doing this, Corning East quickly put the Lakers in a 5-1 deficit.
Skaneateles roared back late in the half and pulled within one, 5-4, at the break. Undaunted, the Trojans built the margin back to 9-5 early in the second half as Lexi Crusha earned four goals and one assist,a s Lisa Illig added two goals.
Despite all this, the Lakers kept its poise and substituted often, banking on the fact that, with a deeper roster, it could wear Corning East down. More importantly, head coach Bridget Marquardt put Libby Johnson on the draw against Baker, neutralizing her physical advantage and giving the Lakers a better chance at grabbing the ground balls.
Sure enough, Skaneateles began grabbing the ball more, and attacked hard. Stephanie Rice, kept quiet for much of the afternoon, used back-to-back goals to get her team closer, and Jenna Lotkowictz ran in off a successful draw to score the tying goal.
Lotkowictz also scored with 10:51 left, placing the Lakers ahead for good, and in the final minutes, the Lakers added two more tallies and possessed the ball most of the time to secure its advancement.
Rice and Lotkowictz each finished with three goals, as Johnson and Kelsey Nangle earned two goals apiece. Karen Vitkus and Shannon Tierney earned single goals.
On Friday at 6:15, Skaneateles meets Nanuet (Section I) in the state semifinals. The winner advances to Saturday’s title game at 2:30 against East Rochester or Shoreham-Wading River.