Already good, the Cazenovia boys soccer team had its opportunity to show that it could take the next step and be great in a pair of road tests.
Of the two, Thursday's trip to Marcellus carried a higher profile since the Mustangs were defending Section III Class B champions and had beaten the Lakers in last year's sectional semifinal, ending Cazenovia's surprising post-season run.
As it turned out, the Lakers spent most of the night on its defensive heels, fending off any number of Mustang chances.
But in the end, all that mattered was that the scoreboard read a 1-0 Laker victory, the type of result that can propel a team toward greatness.
For large periods of time in the first half, the Lakers had a difficult time clearing the ball out of its own end, pushed there by a hungry and deep Marcellus attack.
Two things happened, though. Without a great finisher like departed senior Alex Rouse, the Mustangs had difficulty closing out those rushes and getting good shots at Cazenovia's top-flight goalkeeper, Colin Hill.
Also, the Lakers' defense kept stepping up. Will McCall, Eric Janovsky, Elliott Dydo and Alex Meade took turns kicking away good chances and offering resistance. Hill ended up with eight saves, but thanks to the back line, few of them were that taxing.
Through five games, all the Lakers had allowed, on the board, was an 'own goal' against Fabius-Pompey -- an impressive start.
So it remained 0-0 through halftime, and well into the second half. Each segment featured a long, constant Marcellus attack, followed by an even flow where the Lakers got occasional chances. In all, Cazenovia took just four shots, to the Mustangs' 15.
However, that fourth shot did all the damage. With 2:49 to play in regulation, the Lakers used a series of passes to get Eric Schicho open just to the right of the net, and the senior forward blasted a shot past Mustang goalie Jon Quick inside the left post for what proved to be the game-winner.