Jun 02, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Though the Skaneateles boys lacrosse team has engaged in many memorable duels with LaFayette through the years, few, if any, of those contests had an ending as exciting as what was offered last Saturday in the Section III Class C semifinals at Coyne Field.
Trailing in the fourth quarter, appearing to be on its way out, the Lakers rose up and staged a remarkable comeback, ending the season of the state Class C no. 1-ranked Lancers in a 9-8 thriller.
And an unlikely hero emerged in the process. Junior attacker Oliver Moore accomplished a three-goal hat trick in the fourth quarter to bring Skaneateles back, capping his effort by scoring the game-winner with 1:40 left in regulation.
This game went through three distinct phases — the Lakers controlling the early stages through lights-out defense, LaFayette rallying to take charge by the fourth quarter, only to see Skaneateles do the same in the final act.
With Matt Wood dominating on face-offs, the Lakers were able to dictate the game’s tempo much of the way, preventing LaFayette from getting a large number of scoring chances.
Once Tom Schoener scored late in the first quarter to break a 1-1 tie, Skaneateles led for the rest of the half, going up 4-1 at one point. At every turn, defenders Brennan Buell, Jordan Markley, Kyle McQUiggan and Lexus Johnson frustrated LaFayette’s potent attackers, leading to rushed shots and turnovers.
Despite this control, though, Skaneateles only carried a 4-2 advantage to the break. And late in the third quarter, with the Lakers still ahead 5-3, LaFayette made its move.
Brad Romancik connected on back-to-back shots from the point in the last minute of the period, and Zach Guy’s fourth goal, 14 seconds into the fourth quarter, gave the Lancers its first lead of the afternoon, 6-5.
Moore, quiet to this point, converted less than two minutes later to briefly tie it, 6-6, but with Chris Peterson and Jeremy Beresovoy converting on two goals 32 seconds apart, LaFayette went in front 8-6, forcing Skaneateles head coach Ron Doctor to use a time-out.
At this point, Skaneateles would see the Lancers retreat into a defensive zone, a contrast to the man-to-man approach that had worked so well, especially in the second half.
“It opened things up for us,” said Doctor.
Seizing this opportunity, Moore scored his second goal with 3:30 left, cutting the deficit to 8-7. Then, after forcing a turnover, the Lakers attacked again — and Eric Richards, who already had two goals and one assist on the day, hit on his third goal with 1:59 to play, tying it at 8-8 and sending the Skaneateles crowd into a frenzy.
They were even happier 19 seconds later. Wood won yet another draw, and the Lakers made an immediate push. Again, Moore got open — and when his shot sailed past LaFayette goalie Anthony Pizzuto, Skaneateles had a lead it would not relinquish.
Aside from Moore and Richards, Patrick Emmer produced the most, with a goal and two assists. Schoener and Keith Buehler also had goals, with Josh Kimm recording nine saves.
To get that shot at LaFayette, the Lakers first had to take care of the small matter of two early-round games at home.
It all commenced with last Tuesday’s opening-round game against no. 13 seed South Jefferson. That didn’t prove to be too difficult, as Skaneateles conquered the Spartans 14-1.
That lone goal came in the fourth quarter, long after the Lakers had benched its starters. Wasting little time, Skaneateles tore out to a 7-0 lead by the end of the quarter, and the margin was 10-0 by halftime, allowing the team to relax and pace itself, knowing that tougher tests lay ahead.
Richards, with two goals and three assists, led a balanced offense where Emmer scored three times, while Buehler and Ian Newland joined Richards in the two-goal column. Moore, Schoener, Nathan Hunt, Ryan Callahan and Dylan Ross all chimed in with goals, too.
Skaneateles eagerly anticipated last Thursday’s Class C quarterfinal against no. 5 seed Westhill. Seven days earlier, the Lakers had lost to the Warriors 7-6, the kind of result that just screamed for payback.
The Lakers got it with room to spare, beating Westhill 11-6 by playing some of its best defense of the entire season.
Skaneateles allowed a first-quarter goal, but blanked the Warriors for the rest of the first half, Kimm working his way to 12 saves.
Meanwhile, the Lakers surged in front, 4-1, by halftime, then doubled the margin to 9-3 by the end of the third period, spreading its offense around in the process and ending Westhill’s chances.
Buehler led with three goals and one assists. Emmer, Richards and Schoener each scored twice, while Moore and Wood also took turns getting goals.
As excited as Skaneateles was beating LaFayette, it knows a serious challenge awaits in Wednesday’s Class C final at Coyne Field, where it will try to end the reign of two-time defending champion Christian Brothers Academy at 5 p.m.
Despite a new coach and a relatively new starting lineup, the Brothers have gone 15-4 this spring, including an April 17 win over Skaneateles and a strong 13-6 victory over Homer in last Saturday’s Class C semifinal.
“We seem to be getting strong at the end of the season,” said Doctor. “Hopefully, it can continue. We’re not over that hill yet.”