To make any progress in its return to the Section III Class C playoffs, the Marcellus boys lacrosse team would need to succeed on the road.
As the no. 9 seed, the Mustangs met no. 8 seed Tully in Thursday night's opening round, and though it struggled down the stretch, it still held on to beat the Black Knights 12-11.
Fired up to be back in the post-season after missing it in 2008, Marcellus jumped on Tully in the first half, grabbing a 5-2 lead. When its defense tightened, the margin grew to 7-3 as the game went to the break.
Gradually, Tully started to stir. Behind Joey French (five goals), Mark Briggs (three goals) and Zach Guy (four assists), the Black Knights ate into the Mustangs' lead throughout the second half, pulling within one -- but unable to get the tie it needed.
Marcellus hung by displaying lots of depth behind Josh Ginestro and Evan Hughes, each of whom had three goals and one assist. Ken Kimpel, Kasey Mosher, Tom Glose, Tyler Tomeny, Luke McNaney and Steve Brisette took turns getting goals, with Matt McCaffer and R.J. Linder adding assists. Each of Roger Trombley's nine saves proved important.
Two days later, the run ended as the Mustangs ran right into undefeated top seed LaFayette and fell to the Lancers 13-7 -- but not without staging a serious battle.
LaFayette tried to end it early, bolting out to a 7-1 lead in the first quarter. But Marcellus slowed down the tempo and began to inch back, especially with a strong third quarter, and only trailed 10-7 with one period left.
Here, though, the Mustangs ran out of steam, LaFayette shutting them out in those last 12 minutes and regaining the margin it had earlier behind Miles Thompson's four goals and four assists.
In defeat, the Mustangs had McCaffer earn three goals and one assist, with Mosher adding two goals and two assists. McNaney and Ginestro also scored, with Linder adding an assist. Trombley picked up 12 saves as Marcellus finished with a mark of 9-11.