By the time the spring break ended, the Westhill girls lacrosse team had a great chance to establish itself as one of the clear Section III Class C championship favorites -- and it didn't waste that opportunity.
Of the two wins the Warriors pulled off, its 18-11 conquest of Cazenovia last Friday afternoon gave a stronger indication as to what it could yet do this spring.
Westhill did catch Cazenovia at a good time, coming off a full week of rest and missing several players who had gone out of town during the spring break.
Still, midway through the first half, the Warriors found itself trailing 5-2. Worried so much about stopping senior Kara Cannizzaro (who is going to North Carolina next year), Westhill watched as three other Lakers, including Gabby Jaquith, Kendra Volz and Julie Gregg, poured in goals.
Sensing trouble, first-year head coach Theresa Masse called a time-out, and her words sure seemed effective, for after that, Westhill outscored Cazenovia 8-2 the rest of the half. It dominated both the draws and the ground balls, giving the Lakers little possession time.
A pair of freshmen led the rally, as Brenna Rainone poured in three goals, plus a pair of assists, and Erika Eipp scored twice.
Jaquith, who finished with six goals, helped pull Cazenovia within two, 11-9, midway through the second half. Westhill didn't sense the danger, though, until Mackenzie Rainone went to the sidelines with a yellow card with 14:13 left.
Angered by her big sister's unexpected departure, Brenna Rainone struck three times while her team was short-handed. She scored once, assisted on Annie O'Connor's tally, then made an 80-yard run to pour in another goal with 12:41 to play.
That sparked Westhill's decisive 7-0 push. By the time she finished, Brenna had set a career mark with six goals and four assists, while O'Connor poured in four goals and Emily Haggerty got three goals. Sam Marshall and Mackenzie Rainone each had four assists.
What's more, the Warriors' defense, led by Bridgette Dwyer, Allie Bush and Hannah O'Connor, prevented Cannizzaro (three goals) from too many runs to the net, especially in the second half.