Despite all the scares, all the vulnerability and all the chances that opponents had to end it, the Skaneateles girls lacrosse team's reign as Section III Class C champions continues for the sixth year in a row.
Sunday's championship game at Solvay's Earl Hadley Stadium perfectly fit into this narrative. Trailing long-time rival Marcellus for much of the afternoon, the Lakers rallied in the late stages and toppled the Mustangs 12-11.
Quite unlike years past, when it overwhelmed the competition, Skaneateles had to go through all kinds of internal and external challenges to claim this sectional title.
"This one was difficult to get," said head coach Bridget Marquardt. "We had to fight every step of the way. It took a lot of learning, a lot of teaching and a lot of humility to get this."
According to senior Shannon Tierney, it boiled down to the team's patience and togetherness, especially after Marcellus bolted to a quick 3-0 lead.
"We tried to maintain our composure," said Tierney. "We were patient at the start and didn't force things. We believed in each other, and in our abilities."
Skaneateles was charged with the difficult task of beating a tough opponent for a third time in the same season. It had knocked off Marcellus 14-8 on April 9, then survived a narrow 12-11 decision on May 9, so it was quite aware of how good the Mustangs could be.
Marcellus further made that point with the 3-0 start, which included goals by Meghan Connors and Sarah Holden just nine seconds apart. And so began a long, stressful chase that consumed the entire course of the gray afternoon.
Though not leading, Skaneateles didn't let Marcellus get away, either. The Mustangs' defense was dead-set on containing Jenna Lotkowictz, so Tierney and Kelsey Nangle, along with sophomore Maddy Morrissey, took over on offense, producing enough to cut Marcellus' margin to 6-5 by halftime.