Around the Skaneateles boys lacrosse program, winning is never a problem -- it's just the matter of trying to win championships.
Still under the guidance of head coach Ron Doctor, the Lakers went 15-6 a season ago, getting to the Section III Class C semifinals before falling to LaFayette.
From that team, much of the scoring power graduated, including Devin Lynch, Scott Castle, Erich Pingel and Jeff Donigan, plus defenders Win Wickwire and Will Kraus.
This spring, the Lakers have just nine seniors on its roster -- but most of that experience is on the defensive side, from returning goalie Josh Kimm to defenders like Jordan Markley, Brennan Buell and Erik Stevens.
That defense proved to be a centerpiece as the Lakers, without a sectional crown since 2002, began its quest to end this six-year title drought last Tuesday at Solvay's Earl Hadley Stadium with a 9-5 victory over Westhill.
With winds gusting up to 35 miles per hour across "The Pit", each side had, at times, difficulty keeping their balance and concentration, leading to long offensive droughts.
For the Lakers, this hit in the second quarter, after it had raced to a 5-1 lead in the opening period. It did not score for nearly 12 minutes, giving Westhill time to close to within one, 5-4.
Here, Keith Buehler stepped in. Having already scored twice, the junior, who was the leading scorer on Skaneateles' sectional championship ice hockey team, ripped a shot past D.J. Eckert with 1:26 left in the half, making it 6-4.
That proved to be a crucial turning point. Refreshed by the halftime break, the Lakers' defense went out and blanked Westhill for much of the second half, using physical play and the consistent work of Kimm (he finished with 11 saves) as the Lakers scored three unanswered goals to draw clear.
For the night, Buehler had four goals, the only Skaneateles player to score more than once. Eric Richards, Tom Schoener, Kyle Baier, Nathan Hunt and Oliver Moore took turns putting in goals as Kelly Donigan and Patrick Emmer joined Baier in the assist column.
After a week of further practice, Skaneateles meets rival Marcellus next Tuesday to begin a busy stretch that includes a visit to Jordan-Elbridge and an April 12 game against its neighbors from Auburn at Tompkins County Community College.