Jun 11, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Sure, it was a new venue, a new opponent and a new level of post-season play, but Skaneateles boys lacrosse followers were quite familiar with the riveting script being played out in last Tuesday night’s Class C regional final at Vestal High School near Binghamton.
The Lakers fell behind Section IV powerhouse Corning East by as many as four goals, yet found its way back to tie the game late in regulation — just as it had done two previous times in its amazing post-season run.
Except this time, the opposition did not falter. Corning East regained the edge on a last-minute goal, then held on to end the Lakers’ season in a 10-9 decision whose tension and excitement reflected the entire Skanetaeles story of 2008.
Throughout the second half of the regular season, Skaneateles found itself playing in — and winning most of the time — close, hard-fought battles.
Applying what it had learned there, the Lakers never panicked when LaFayette went up 8-6 in the fourth quarter of the Section III Class C semifinals May 31, rallying down the stretch for a 9-8 win over a Lancer squad ranked no. 1 in the state at the time.
A week later, after beating CBA for the sectional title, Skaneateles staged an even greater rally in the first Class C regional game, erasing a 14-9 fourth-quarter deficit in the final minutes to stun Salmon River 15-14.
Following all this, the Lakers braced itself for Corning East, a team that reached the state Class C finals a year ago and carried every intention of going back.
Corning East inched into a 2-1 lead by the end of the first quarter, then threatened to get away before halftime. The Trojans’ Matt Pierotti notched all four of his goals in the first two periods, and it left the Lakers staring at a 7-3 deficit as the two sides went to halftime.
When it was required, Skaneateles clamped down on defense. Back-line players Brennan Buell, Jordan Markley, Lexus Johnson and Kyle McQuiggan helped produce a third-quarter shutout, and a pair of goals helped the Lakers cut the margin in half, to 7-5.
Corning East responded by pushing the lead back to 9-6 in the early part of the fourth quarter, the type of effort that would break most ordinary teams.
However, Skaneateles is far from ordinary. In a span of 3:22, the Lakers erased the Trojans’ deficit, culminating when Ian Newland scored with three minutes to play in regulation to forge a 9-9 tie.
Unlike LaFayette or Salmon River, though, Corning East kept it collective cool. With less than two minutes to play, the Trojans’ Brendan Hennessey picked up a ground ball and the sideline signaled a time-out. Once play resumed, Corning East worked the ball to Ryan Warner, whose shot eluded Josh Kimm and found the net with 52.2 seconds left.
Though it had plenty of time to tie it again and force overtime, the Lakers lost the ensuing face-off, and the Trojans ran out the clock. In defeat, Patrick Emmer and Eric Richards led Skaneateles with two goals apiece.
So ended the Lakers’ 17-6 season, which included the team’s first sectional title in six years. Head coach Ron Doctor will see seniors like Kimm, Buell, Markley, Newland, Eric Richards and Matt Wood depart the scene through graduation.
However, with a strong returning nucleus that includes Johnson, McQuiggan, Emmer, Keith Buehler, Kelly Donigan, Tom Schoener, Oliver Moore, Kyle Baier, and Ryan Callahan, the Lakers are certainly capable of repeating as sectional champions in 2009 — and perhaps, threatening its first-ever state title, too.