After ending its six-year Section III Class C title drought (see related story), the Skaneateles boys lacrosse team nearly didn't make it out of its initial round of regional play.
Only a familiar storyline -- the fourth-quarter comeback -- pulled the Lakers out of last Saturday's regional opener against Salmon River, as a seemingly certain defeat turned into a 15-14 victory over the Shamrocks at Central Square.
Salmon River, a Section X school long known for its top-flight hockey program, was unbeaten going into the regional playoffs, though it had not faced the kind of competition Skaneateles had dealt with throughout the spring.
Still, the Shamrocks did everything but win. Despite the Lakers' Matt Wood getting most of the face-offs, Salmon River offered solid resistance throughout the first half and exploited every possible gap in the Lakers' defense.
Following a high-scoring first period, the Shamrocks, up 5-4, controlled most of the second quarter and went to the break leading 9-5. Try as it could in the third quarter, all Skaneateles could do was match Salmon River's production.
So the Lakers were down, 13-9, with one quarter left, and Ty Thompson made it 14-9 with his fifth goals 52 seconds into the fourth quarter. Trailing by five, Skaneateles had to get everything to go right to rally -- which is exactly what happened.
A minute after Thompson's tally, Keith Buehler answered, his goal making it 14-10. After a brief quiet spell, Tom Schoener got in the act, converting with 7:56 left, and Eric Richards scored less than two minutes later, making it 14-12.
Wood continued to gain the face-offs, and the Lakers' depth and energy level far exceeded what Salmon River could offer, a big factor given the hot, humid conditions.
Oliver added to the rally, his goal with 4:43 left cutting the margin to one, 14-13. Less than 90 seconds later, Richards returned and poured a shot past Salmon River goalie Trey Adams -- and Skaneateles had a 14-14 tie.