For the Marcellus boys soccer team, possibly the only thing sweeter than reclaiming the Section III Class B championship was doing so at the expense of its rivals from Skaneateles.
Keith White's penalty kick early in the second half proved to be the difference Tuesday night in the Mustangs' 2-1 victory over the Lakers at West Genesee High School. But the victory really was a month in the making.
The last time Marcellus played Skaneateles on Oct. 1, it lost a 3-1 decision, as the Lakers dominated much of the contest.
"Losing (that game) was the best thing that could have happened to us," head coach Jennifer Griffin said. "We really needed to play bolder, be more physical and get more depth in our attack."
Indeed, from that game forward, Marcellus has not lost once, a long stretch of improvement hidden from the Lakers' view as both sides worked their way toward a sectional final clash.
"We felt really confident and had a good game plan," Griffin said. "They (Skaneateles) did not know how much better we had become."
Unlike in October, the Lakers would not jump in front early, though it had a great chance 1:30 into the game as Ryan Farrell's close-up shot got tipped over the net by Mustangs goalie Jon Quick.
From there, the two sides settled down, mostly probing through the first half as the familiarity with each other led to a deadlock.
But in the 32nd minute, Marcellus broke the deadlock. White's hard shot from the point hit the right post, but Jon Schoonmaker swooped in and hit a low rebound past Jake Bird, putting the Mustangs up 1-0.
The Lakers stayed patient and, 5:30 into the second half, tied it when Quick rushed out of the net on a Skaneateles attack - and Bryan Stokes-Cawley poked a low shot past Quick into the unoccupied net.