Humbled a bit by the 8-0 shutout Skaneateles gave them on April 18, the Cazenovia boys lacrosse team spent the better part of the next week recovering through a pair of solid victories -- yet it was a defeat that carried the most lasting value.
What the Lakers learned, in Saturday's 11-10 loss to LaFayette, was that it had the goods to match up with just about anyone in the area, and that it just had to avoid long-term lapses to make it happen.
This was supposed to be LaFayette's showcase. Not only was it 7-0 and no. 3 in the state rankings, it chose the Cazenovia game to officially celebrate its 50th season of lacrosse, with members of the first team in 1960 honored in pre-game ceremonies.
Caught up in all that hoopla, the Lancers may have forgotten about Cazenovia -- and the Lakers pounced, staying close in the first half and, led by Brett Axelson, easing into a 6-5 lead before halftime.
Sensing the urgency, LaFayette answered with a patented offensive blitz that covered the entire third quarter and included six goals. At least Cazenovia did enough in response to remain within sight, 11-8, with one period left.
Down the stretch, the Lakers played note-perfect defense, not allowing anything more as Ben Bowers worked his total to nine saves. Cazenovia pulled within one, but could not quite notch the goal that would force overtime.
Axelson finished with five goals, exactly half the Lakers' output. Sean Cannizzaro and Justin Hoffman each found the net twice, with Mike McGinnis also scoring. Sean Dougherty, Chad Dorrance and Seth Goldacker joined Cannizzaro in the assist column.
A balanced Lancer attack saw John Greeley, Lyle Thompson and Jeremy Beresovoy each land three-goal hat tricks, while Miles Thompson earned two goals and one assist.