Everyone associated with the Jamesville-DeWitt boys lacrosse team had carried the dark memory of a dispiriting loss to New Hartford in the 2006 Section III Class B final for a full 12 months, and used it as motivation to get things right in '07.
Thanks to ferocious defense and maximum intensity, the Red Rams are back on top.
J-D finished its run to the sectional championship last Wednesday night, at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium, where it took charge against Cortland in the second half and beat the Purple Tigers 11-6.
Senior defender Brian Karalunas said the '06 finals defeat fueled his team's effort all season, especially in the title game.
"We knew how terrible that felt, and we were not going to feel that way again," he said.
This was J-D's third sectional title in five years, to go with victories in 2003 and 2005. But this was the first championship won by second-year head coach Jamie Archer.
"It feels good," said Archer. "(A year ago), we underestimated New Hartford. But we knew how good this team (Cortland) was. We came out ready to play and were fired up."
A lot of that fire, said Archer, came from the fact that Cortland had marched onto J-D's rain-soaked turf on May 1 and beaten the Rams, leaving another reminder for J-D that reclaiming its crown would not be easy.
As always with J-D, the defense formed the foundation for victory. Going in, the Rams knew it had to contain Joel White, the Syracuse University-bound anchor of the Purple Tigers' attack. And it had done so before, holding White without a point in an April 5 overtime victory in wintry conditions.
Plus, the Rams' back line stewed about the fact that, in the Class B semifinals on May 26, it had allowed 13 goals to East Syracuse-Minoa, an uncharacteristic effort that, if repeated, would mean doom against Cortland.