Mike Fiacco and his Jamesville-DeWitt boys lacrosse teammates did not need a whole lot of motivation for Friday night's Section III Class B final against Carthage at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium.
"We were waiting for this game for a whole year," he said. "We wanted this."
And the Red Rams got it, overcoming its own nerves and a rare struggle from its high-powered attack to beat the Comets 8-6 and avenge a 10-6 defeat to that same Carthage squad in last year's sectional title game.
Much of the credit on this night would belong to Fiacco and his fellow J-D defenders, who stepped up to force the young (five sophomores start) Comets into mistakes, especially in the decisive fourth quarter.
"Our defense has been there all year," head coach Jamie Archer said.
At least when the game started, though, the Rams didn't look like it would need great defense. Mac Keehfus and Eric DeJohn both scored in the game's opening minute, and Joe Shepard converted to make it 3-0 before the game was three minutes old.
Despite this, Archer said his team was on edge -- something that would manifest itself over the next three periods as Carthage worked its way back.
"We came out nervous and played nervous," Archer said. "We kept dropping passes and missing (open) players."
The mistakes accumulated, and the Comets indeed closed to 5-4 at halftime. Then Derek Kehoe took over early in the third quarter, hitting both the tying and go-ahead goals to push Carthage into a 6-5 lead.
Shepard answered 27 seconds later to tie it, 6-6, but it stayed that way into the fourth quarter, a chance to see if all the bad memories of 2008 would translate into positive work this time.
It did, as Jeff Sciera converted 49 seconds into the final period. That proved to be the game-winner, as Carthage suffered a series of turnovers, caused by a J-D defense that stepped up just when it was required.