As the schedule would have it, the Marcellus girls lacrosse team began 2009 just as it ended 2008 -- close to Skaneateles, but not quite caught up.
Victimized by a Laker comeback in last year's Section III Class C final, the Mustangs, still in search of a first-ever sectional title, hoped the return of several key players, combined with a lot of Skaneateles roster turnover, would turn this long-time rivalry around.
Yet in last Monday night's opener, Marcellus went through too many defensive lapses, fell far behind, and saw a valiant rally fall short in a 13-11 loss to the Lakers.
Though seven starters have returned for head coach Dick Lundblad, the Mustangs did have a new face in goal, with Kate McCarthy succeeding Natalie Scheibel.
However, the presence of Stephanie O'Rourke, Nora Barry, Kate Gosson and Meghan Connors gives Marcellus a potent attack, capable of putting up big numbers of goals in a short amount of time.
That didn't happen immediately against Skaneateles, though the teams played on even terms most of the first half. Paced by a pair of goals from both O'Rourke and newcomer Leea Sinay, the Mustangs erased a 3-1 deficit to tie it, 4-4.
But after a Skaneateles timeout, it took over late in the half with four unanswered goals. None hurt more than when McCarthy ventured out of the net to follow the play, only to see the Lakers gain a turnover and have Maddy Morrissey run in and score 3.7 seconds before the break.
All told, Skaneateles got seven unanswered goals and blanked Marcellus for more than 16 minutes, leading to an 11-4 deficit and a sense that once again, the Lakers were superior.
To its credit, though, Marcellus began to fight back with its own run of five unanswered goals, capped by Connors' tally with 6:02 to play that pulled the Mustangs within two, 11-9, with a lot of time to complete the comeback.