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.