Repeating as Section III Class B champions would require the Skaneateles boys soccer team to upend its closest rival.
But in a turnaround from what took place in the regular season, Marcellus got the upper hand -- or upper foot, since this is soccer -- in the one meeting that mattered most, beating the Lakers 2-1 in the Class B final last Tuesday night at West Genesee High School.
Going in, the Lakers had to feel the most confidence, even if it carried the no. 5 seed to the Mustangs' no. 2 seed.
The two neighbors had met twice in the regular season. After a power outage cut short a 1-1 game in Marcellus on Sept. 9, the Lakers dominated the Oct. 1 rematch in Skaneateles, winning by a 3-1 margin.
The Mustangs had not lost since, including a pair of convincing playoff wins over Lowville (4-0) and Westhill (3-1). Faced with a more difficult playoff path, Skaneateles won at Mount Markham 2-1 in the quarterfinals, then blanked top seed Clinton 2-0 on Nov. 4 to reach the title game.
Six days later, a large crowd gathered in Camillus to witness some history -- namely, the first Marcellus-Skaneateles sectional boys soccer final since 1985. Either the Lakers were going to win back-to-back titles, or the Mustangs would earn its third championship in five years.
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. Keith 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.