Jun 03, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Gathering around each other in a huddle before the second half of Tuesday night’s Section III Class C final at SUNY-Cortland, the Skaneateles girls lacrosse team initiated an “I believe that we will win” chant to fire themselves up for the 25 minutes ahead.
The only problem was that Carthage had already done much of the work to win — and would not let up until it had beaten the Lakers 18-8 in a breathtaking performance that delighted all the fans that came down from the north country to see them.
It was a rare instance of two sectional champions meeting each other in the post-season. Carthage had won the last three sectional Class B titles before moving down to the C ranks, where Skaneateles had dominated in recent years.
Of course, this year’s version of the Lakers entered the final not as an overwhelming favorite, but as an upstart, coming off dramatic, last-second, one-goal playoff wins over Westhill and Marcellus.
By contrast, Carthage had breezed through the first two rounds, outscoring Mexico and Cortland by a combined 34-5 margin, and had only been scared when Cazenovia nearly erased a nine-goal deficit in the Class C semifinals on May 30 before it ended 16-14.
What Laker fans hoped was that the team’s brutal schedule made it better prepared for a big game than the Comets. And when Skaneateles goalie Heather Mullen made some big early stops and Lindsay Angelillo scored 4:18 into the game to put the Lakers up 1-0, those hopes appeared to be legitimate.
All that did, though, was awaken a Carthage beast — which proceeded to devour the Lakers’ title dreams by scoring seven times in a span of less than six minutes following Angelillo’s tally.
Katie Ferris proved to be the focal point. The profoundly talented Carthage junior dominated the draws, winning them on a regular basis and initiating a fast-paced attack that used speed, skill and deadly accurate passing to overwhelm the Lakers’ defense.
Kaylah Kempney and Amy Tiernan scored on back-to-back possessions to push Carthage in front 2-1. Then Ferris applied the real dagger, winning three straight draws, then running down and scoring three straight goals — in a span of 27 seconds.
After this onslaught, Skaneateles briefly recovered, Maddy Morrissey scoring twice in a row to make it 7-3. But Carthage tightened its defense, forced turnovers, and continued pushing the tempo to regain its margin.
Even when the Lakers managed to take a goal away from Ferris late in the first half because her stick had too deep of a pocket, Megan Serota and Tiernan both converted in the last 40 seconds of the half to make it 10-3 at the break.
Skaneateles never got close again, as Ferris finished with six goals and one assist, while Kempney added four goals and one assist and Katherine DeRonda earned three goals and five assists.
Still, the Lakers battled to the end, Katherine Pille leading the way with three goals and three assists as Angelillo and Morrissey both found the net twice. Mullen, under ferocious assault all night, finished with 17 saves.
So ended a 12-10 season where Skaneateles lost five times by one goal, yet still made it all the way to the championship round.
Angelillo, Mullen and Pille, plus defenders Brooke McNeilly, Claire Gadra and Barbara Gaffney graduate. But Morrissey, Aly Davis, Carly Davis, Diane Vitkus and Shelby McNeilly highlight a returning cast that, in 2010, will try to restore the Lakers’ place at the top.