May 24, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Prior to last week’s magical ride, the Cazenovia girls lacrosse team had never won a Section III playoff game in any round.
But the Lakers took care of that deficiency in a big way, advancing deep into the Class C tournament — and coming within an eyelash of playing for a championship.
At the end of this run was Thursday night’s Class C semifinal against Christian Brothers Academy at Henninger High School’s Sunnycrest Field, which had turned into the most important game in the program’s history
It turned out to be one of the most exciting, too.
With a trip to meet Skaneateles in Wednesday’s final at SUNY-Cortland on the line, the Lakers nearly rallied from six goals down in the second half before falling at the end, 14-13, to the Brothers.
Not nervous at all in this pressure-filled setting, Cazenovia seized a 2-0 lead in the game’s opening minutes, as Sarah Wright and Kara Cannizzaro found the net.
CBA quickly answered with four straight goals, only to have the Lakers tie it again. They continued to go back and forth until the Brothers nudged into a 6-5 lead on Katie Webster’s third goal less than two minutes before halftime.
It appeared that the Brothers’ big-game experience would be the decisive factor. It built a 12-6 lead by the middle point of the second half, wearing out Cazenovia’s defense in the process.
Before it could all get away, though, Cannizzaro scored again with 10:15 left to begin the rally. The margin was sliced in half, to 13-10, but due to accumulated yellow cards, Cazenovia had to play three minutes while one man down, and when Rachael Ponge scored with 3:10 left to put CBA back up 14-10, the chase looked to be over.
Yet Cazenovia kept on fighting. Cannizzaro found the net with 2:26 to play, her fifth goal of the night to go with two assists. Erin Tatum converted a free possession with 1:11 left. After picking up the draw, Wright returned and, with 50.1 seconds left, got her fifth goal, and the margin was down to one.
With a chance to force overtime, the Lakers won yet another draw and pushed, but CBA goalie Emma Taylor made two big saves in the final 25 seconds, thwarting the comeback at the last possible moment.
This was merely the last act of a memorable stretch of 72 hours where Cazenovia cleared two post-season hurdles, and nearly a third.
Quite easily, the Lakers took care of the first part, beating no. 10 seed Canton 18-7 at the Fenner Road complex as Cannizzaro and Niki Holmes put on quite a show.
Setting a torrid pace, the Lakers doubled up Canton in the first half, led 10-5 at the break, and pulled further way, just to leave no questions.
Mostly, it was Cannizzaro and Holmes leveling Canton, each of them putting up six goals, as Cannizzaro also earned three assists.
Wright and Chelsea McKillop provided the help, with two goals apiece, while Kendra Volz and Gabby Jacquith earned single tallies and Tatum got two assists.
Right after that, the road was supposed to get a lot steeper when, on Tuesday, the Lakers took on no. 2 seed Jamesville-DeWitt, who sported a 15-2 record.
Unimpressed by that gaudy mark, and unfazed of the hostile setting, Cazenovia took over in the second half and left the Red Rams behind, prevailing 13-9 to move one step closer to the title game.
When J-D took a 6-3 edge late in the first half, the Lakers looked to be in trouble — but it ran off three unanswered goals to tie it, 6-6, by halftime.
Confident that it could produce, the Lakers went on a second-half tear, breaking through every possible crease in J-D’s defense and going in front for good.
Part of the reason was that Cazenovia showed a lot more balance than it did against Canton. Holmes (two goals) and Cannizzaro (one goal, two assists) were far quieter in this game, but their teammates stepped up.
Jacquith, just an eighth-grader, continued her emergence with a three-goal hat trick. Wright also found the net three times, as Tatum, McKillop, Mackenzie Moore and Kelly Snyder joined Cannizzaro in the one-goal column.
Meanwhile, Mackenzie Moore led a Cazenovia defense that got more physical and cooled the Rams down. Becki Duszak finished with nine saves.
With that narrow defeat to CBA, the Lakers closed out a 12-10 season where it made all kinds of history, from most wins to its post-season breakthrough.
And it did so with just four seniors on the roster. Duszak, Moore, Tatum and Caroline McAleer depart. But with Holmes, Cannizzaro, Wright, Snyder, McKillop, Jaquith, Volz, Claire Dorsey, Whitney Goris, Katherine Wheeler, Rachel Hardke and Audrey Dunne among the deep returning cast, Cazenovia can go after a championship in 2008.