May 25, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Ruthless and in top form, the Skaneateles girls lacrosse team is bent on winning a third consecutive state Class C championship.
And it doesn’t hurt to have someone like Stephanie Rice around.
With the chance at breaking her own single-season OHSL scoring record set in 2006, Rice managed to top herself last Thursday when her team beat Westhill 15-10 in the Section III Class C semifinals at Henninger High School’s Sunnycrest Field.
In just 40 minutes of field time, Rice poured in 11 goals, a new school record, and just one off the league record Kate Schalk (Fayetteville-Manlius) set 14 years ago.
“I was just getting open, and my teammates were passing the ball well,” said Rice.
Head coach Bridget Marquardt said Westhill’s defenders allowed Rice one-on-one looks, which she constantly exploited, much to the Warriors’ chagrin.
“She got open, and they (Westhill) were not adjusting,” said Marquardt.
That wasn’t the case as much in the game’s early stages. Playing with all kinds of intensity, Westhill matched Skaneateles, and used goals by Katie Doherty and Lizzy Coholan just 12 seconds apart to tie the game, 3-3.
At just that moment, midway through the first half, the two teams were sent to the sidelines to get some liquids, an allowance to the hot conditions of the afternoon.
It came at a perfect time for the Lakers. Marquardt said her team needed to get the ground balls to set up more scoring chances.
Rice agreed. “We came out kind of flat,” she said. “(After the break), we just needed to play with more intensity.”
That was achieved, quite easily. Skaneateles proceeded to shut out Westhill for more than 27 minutes, as defenders like Margaret Shanley and Kaitlin Clark protected the net any time the Warriors tried to attack.
Meanwhile, Rice was tearing Westhill to pieces. Amid a decisive 9-0 run, Rice scored eight of her 11 goals, mostly doing so by cutting to the net and taking a feed from behind. Shannon Tierney (three assists) and Kelsey Nangle (two assists) were the main feeders.
Rice could have shattered Schalk’s individual mark, but she left the game with nine minutes left and Skaneateles comfortably in front, 13-4. Though Westhill made a late flurry, it came with most of the Lakers’ starters on the bench.
It was quite an eventful week for the team, on and off the field. On May 20, Marquardt gave birth to a son, Jack, well before her due date in June. Remarkably, Marquardt was back on the sidelines two nights later for the Lakers’ playoff opener.
As the top seed in the Class C tournament, Skaneateles began its three-peat quest last Tuesday with an all-out effort against no. 8 seed Bishop Ludden in the quarterfinal round, routing the Gaelic Knights by a score of 17-4.
Patient on the attack, Skaneateles controlled the tempo and went out in front, then clamped down on Ludden’s attack, pitching a first-half shutout and building an 8-0 advantage.
Libby Johnson burst into the post-season with four goals and four assists, and Tierney was just as good, with three goals and three assists.
Rice scored five times, adding an assist, as Karen Vitkus put in two goals. Emma Hueber, Jenna Lotkowictz and Maddy Morrissey each had single tallies.
Two days later, Rice would have her record-setting day against Westhill, setting up a familiar plot line for Wednesday’s Class C title game at SUNY-Cortland.
Once again, the Lakers will have to beat Christian Brothers Academy for the crown. Despite a no. 6 seed, the Brothers have made it this far, surviving a 12-11 battle at Cortland in the quarterfinals and nearly blowing a six-goal lead in the semifinals before holding off Cazenovia 14-13.
CBA has a deep and diverse attack, with Katie Webster, Brittany Brigandi, Rachael Ponge and M.E. Lapham at its heart. However, Skaneateles has Rice, who had eight goals in a 15-10 win over the Brothers on May 17.
A mere 13 days later, the two collide again for much higher stakes.