When faced with a serious threat to its early-season domination of the OHSL Liberty division, the Marcellus girls soccer team confidently met the moment.
Cazenovia was even with the Mustangs late in Monday night's first-place showdown, but on its home turf, Marcellus turned to its veteran hands and pulled through, leading to a 2-1 victory over the Lakers.
Ever since the season began, the Mustangs and Lakers had separated themselves from the rest of the Liberty division -- and, for that matter, the rest of the Section III Class B ranks.
While Marcellus streaked to a 9-0 start with its depth and devastating possession game, Cazenovia had gone 8-1 with a speedy, diverse attack and a willingness to mix it up, physically, with any of its foes.
All of this would be on display during this perfect fall evening -- but it was the Mustangs that first took charge on its familiar home artificial surface.
As the Lakers adjusted its game to the Field Turf, Marcellus attacked hard, with players like Deana Melnyczuk and Chelsea Tarolli just missing early goals.
However, in the 15th minute, seniors Rachel Farneti and Sarah Holden did not miss.
Drawing a corner kick, the Mustangs turned, as usual, to Farneti, who lofted the ball from the left side. It was perfectly place, right to the ground where Holden was standing, and Holden blasted a clean shot past Cazenovia goalkeeper Clare Dorsey to give the Mustangs a 1-0 lead.
Gradually, the visitors settled down, and Marcellus found it more difficult to get close-up scoring chances. Cazenovia defenders Ashleigh Baldwin, Whitney Goris and Katie Wheeler weren't afraid to offer a few pushes to frustrated the Mustang forwards, and Dorsey stayed cool in the net, finishing with 12 saves.
So it went to halftime 1-0, with the Lakers starting to inch closer with its own attack, a trend that continued early in the second half, which would lead to Cazenovia getting even.