As it creeps toward the Section III Class C playoffs, the Cazenovia boys lacrosse team is finding out something quite valuable -- that it can play in the clutch.
Twice in a span of 48 hours last week, the Lakers won game by a one-goal margin, none more valuable than Wednesday's 10-9 decision over long-time power Skaneateles at the Sean Goggin Sports Complex.
Once up by three, the eastern Lakers saw that lead get away, only to reclaim it in a tense fourth quarter where the issue was in doubt until Brian Regan scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with 46.1 seconds left.
Much of the first half was an even exchange, as Skaneateles would score and Cazenovia would answer. Then in a sequence, Justin Hoffman, Brandon Moyer and Justin Hubbard all scored, putting the eastern Lakers up 6-3 early in the third quarter.
This seemed to arouse the western Lakers into action. Aided by some Cazenovia penalties, Skaneateles ran off four unanswered goals and, by the end of the third period, enjoyed a 7-6 lead.
So it remained until Moyer returned for his second goal with 7:17 left and, 39 seconds later, Coleman Koesterer found the net, putting the eastern Lakers back in front 8-7.
Now the exchange resumed. Skaneateles tied it, then Koesterer hit his second goal with 2:16 to play, only to see Jon Dalpos answer with his third tally with 1:38 left, forging the game's seventh tie, at 9-9.
Cazenovia got the ball in the final minute of regulation. With Skaneateles' defense intent on keeping Koesterer from controlling the ball, Regan, who had not scored all afternoon, found an open lane and ripped a shot past Josh Kimm. Good defense would help preserve that slim winning margin.
Moyer, Koesterer and Irwin each scored twice in the eastern Lakers' balanced attack. Regan, Hoffman, Aaron Race and Ben Dewan had the other goals. Patrick Cooney made 12 saves, each of them important, to negate the hat tricks Dalpos and teammate Scott Castle put together.