Up until now, Laurie Updike had never coached a Marcellus girls soccer team that had pulled off an undefeated regular season.
But the 2007 edition of the Mustangs have pulled it off, saving its toughest assignment -- and best performance for the last of those 18 tests.
It came Thursday afternoon, at Cazenovia's Sean Goggin Sports Complex, where Marcellus fought through a first-rate opponent and took over in the late stages, beating the Lakers 2-0.
Updike said her players continue to believe in each other, even though it lost both Kellie Walter and Brittany Buza for the season to torn ACL's in recent weeks.
That belief would face a severe test in Cazenovia. The Lakers were 15-2 and had put a serious scare into Marcellus in their first regular-season encounter Sept. 24 (the game where Walter was injured) before the Mustangs emerged with a 2-1 win.
Here, Cazenovia played even better in the first half, often putting the Mustangs on the defensive as it faced both the speedy Laker attackers and a headwind.
"They're a formidable opponent and played really hard," said Updike.
However, the Mustangs' defense remained formidable. Marissa Bankey and Brittany Fellows have both ably filled Walter's role in a four-back set that also includes Emily Garrant, Alicia Hunt and Stephanie Raven. Together, they blocked Cazenovia's path, and kept the game at 0-0 going into the break.
Cazenovia's own plans would backfire. It decided to hold Senior Day activities at halftime, stretching the break out to 15 minutes. As it turned out, that was plenty of time for the Lakers' early energy to disappear -- while Marcellus refreshed, and got ready to take over.
Now with the wind advantage, the Mustangs gradually asserted control, using its strong conditioning to wear down a Cazenovia squad that does not possess as much depth.