For Matt Dempsey, there was no choice -- only a pin would help his Marcellus wrestling team in the finale of last Wednesday night's showdown with archrival Skaneateles.
Trailing by six points, the Mustangs would draw even from a point perspective with a pin -- but win because it would own the tie-breaker of having won seven of 13 matches on the card.
Sure enough, Dempsey got the work done, pinning his 125-pound opponent, Ryan Dick, late in the second period -- and with that extra point for seven wins, Marcellus beat Skaneateles in a 37-36 thriller.
The Mustangs were coming off a 3-2 showing at the Chittenango Dual Meet on Dec. 6, where it beat Homer 43-30, Onondaga 51-18 and New Hartford 41-18, but lost to the host Bears 51-18 and fell to Whitney Point 39-32.
Skaneateles, with a week of rest, had a chance to gain a crucial early edge in the 130-pound opener. However, Jacob Valentino could not get the takedown he needed and lost a narrow 3-2 decision to Matt Marchiterre.
Marcellus then made it 9-0 when Pat Cost, at 135 pounds, pinned Chad Gray in 2:58. That helped the Mustangs brace itself against the Lakers' Jacob Carvalho (140 pounds) pinning Brian Barrett in 1:27 and forfeits to Eric Murray at 145 pounds and Nathan Hunt at 152 pounds.
Now trailing 18-9, the Mustangs earned another important decision at 160 pounds as Tim Reedy beat Kyle Sears 6-1.
But when Chris Wise (171 pounds) pinned Robert Balucci at the end of their 171-pound match and Jimmy Carro (189 pounds) finished off Aaron Murphy in 1:27, Skaneateles stretched the lead to 30-12, nearly out of reach.
Then it turned once more, because the Lakers didn't have anyone to wrestle at 215 or 103 pounds, giving Ross Bolewski and Keith McIntosh forfeits and quickly shrinking the deficit to 30-24. Right after that, Matt Simms pinned his 112-pound opponent, Austin Simone, in a scant 55 seconds, and the two neighbors were even again 30-30 with two matches left.
Even when Kevin Pembridge, at 119 pounds, earned a pin over Austin Simone in 1:12, Skaneateles, with a 36-30 lead, wasn't clear. It needed anything less than a pin in the final match between Dick and Dempsey to earn victory.
Dempsey knew this, and immediately took charge against Dick, working until he had the shoulders on the mat and a dramatic pin for a Marcellus victory.
As the Mustangs rested for the rest of the week, Skaneateles makes a Saturday visit to a tournament in Portville, near Olean.