Hungry for its first-ever championship, the Marcellus girls lacrosse team took the plunge into the Section III Class C playoffs, never imagining that a familiar narrative would resurface as the most inopportune time.
Up by three late in last Saturday's Class C semifinal against Skaneateles at West Genesee High School, the Mustangs could not hold on and dropped an 11-10 decision to the Lakers.
This game fell two days short of one year after the bitter disappointment of the 2008 Class C final, where Marcellus seemed to have the championship in hand -- only to have the Lakers rally to beat them 12-11.
It was supposed to be different this time. Marcellus had just beaten Skaneateles 12 days earlier, on the Lakers' home field, and roared into this semifinal off strong wins over Watertown IHC and Jordan-Elbridge in the first two rounds.
They traded goals for much of the first half -- Skaneateles converting and Marcellus answering -- until Erin Walter's tally at the 14:04 mark pushed the Mustangs in front for the first time at 4-3. Nearly seven minutes later, Nora Barry converted to make it 5-3.
But in the last minute of the half, Skaneateles used back-to-back goals by Maddy Morrissey and Aly Davis to tie it, 5-5, and carried that momentum into the second half, seizing a 7-5 lead.
Led by Kelsey Madden, Erin Rohe and Caitrin Hickey, Marcellus would regroup on the defensive side, blanking the Lakers for nearly 12 minutes, more than enough time for the Mustangs to make what it thought would be a decisive move.
Barry, the Mustangs' talented sophomore attacker, led the charge, getting three of her five goals to push Marcellus into a 9-7 lead. And when Stephanie O'Rourke pushed in her second goal with 9:57 left to make it 10-7, the Lakers had to use a time-out.