This was new ground for the Westhill boys lacrosse team to tread -- the semifinals of the Section III Class C playoffs, lofty air that other programs work a long time to reach.
And the no. 4 seed Warriors were not fearful of the stage during Tuesday night's semifinal against top seed LaFayette at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium, putting up quite a fight before falling to the Lancers 15-10.
LaFayette entered the game at 19-0, one of just two unbeaten boys teams left in the state. That included a win over Westhill on April 28, something the Warriors remembered as it entered the playoff rematch.
With its high-octane attack sharp in the early going, the Lancers put the Warriors in a 5-1 deficit before the first quarter was done.
Westhill had two choices -- either slow things down and hope that led to some frustration on LaFayette's part, or attack in its own right.
The Warriors went for the latter option and ran hard, pulling within 8-5 by halftime. LaFayette would regain its control, though, building the margin to 12-7 in the third period and answering every time Westhill would convert.
Tris Nicola burned the Lancers' defense all night, finishing with four goals and two assists. John Zimmerman had two goals and one assist, with Dan Eipp and Dylan Tripodi each getting one goal and three assists. Alex Lesins and Tim Burgess notched single goals.
Working in the net, Mark McAnaney had eight saves, but LaFayette's stars still caused lots of damage. Miles Thompson had five goals and three assists to lead the Lancers as Lyle Thompson got three goals and three assists and John Greeley (going to Johns Hopkins next year) also had three goals.
Westhill finished its most successful season yet at 14-7, up from a 12-8 mark in 2008. It might not be long before the Warriors reach the top of the ladder.