All that work against all those difficult, top-level teams benefited the Bishop Ludden girls lacrosse team -- as it showed when the Section III Class C playoffs got underway.
Locked in a tight battle with no. 9 seed Chittenango in last Saturday's opening round, the no. 8 seed Gaelic Knights turned to its star athletes to put the Bears away, dominating down the stretch to win by a score of 15-8.
Though Ludden led for much of the first half and got multiple goals from Stephanie Dussing and Erin Lighton, it couldn't get away from Chittenango. And when Kailey Krause scored 1:40 into the second half, the game was tied, 6-6, and the Gaelic Knights appeared to be in some danger.
However, Chittneango would not score for the next 15-plus minutes. Defenders Casey Wheeler, Chelsea Fremont and Sidney Dirk clamped down on Krause, Jenna Barber and Jessica Antelmi, keeping the Bears' main scoring threat from getting too many chances. Kaci Milligan was sharp in the net, too, as she recorded 15 saves.
Meanwhile, Ludden reeled off six unanswered goals to get away. Molly Byrne led that charge, getting four of her five goals in the second half and adding two assists, as Brighton also finished with five goals, plus one assist.
Dussing stepped in with two goals and three assists, while Abby Hiza, Sara Byrne and Shannon McDermott also scored.
With that win, the Gaelic Kngihts (9-8) advances to Tuesday's Class C quarterfinal against top seed and five-time defending champion Skaneateles. The winner gets Cortland or Cazenovia in Thursday's semifinal at West Genesee, with the finals set for Sunday at Solvay.
Two nights earlier, in the regular-season finale, against Christian Brothers Academy, where the Gaelic Knights lost to the Brothers 14-9.
All of the damage was rendered in the first half, when Ludden (perhaps distracted by all the Senior Night festivities) fell behind 9-4. It kept up the rest of the way, but could not make the sustained run to catch up.
Lighton led the Gaelic Knights with three goals and two assists. Molly Byrne and Adrienne Law each found the net twice, with McDermott and Hiza earning single goals. Stephanie Dussing was held to one assist.
Despite Milligan's 12 saves, CBA had Katie Webster produce five goals and Brittany Brigandi earn four goals and one assist.
CBA, behind Brigandi (six goals), Withers (five goals) and Lapham (four goals, four assists), routed Watertown IHC 17-4 in the opening round of the Class C playoffs. The Brothers meet Marcellus in Tuesday's quarterfinal round.