At its own "King of the Hill" tournament over the course of the Labor Day weekend, the Jamesville-DeWitt girls soccer team quickly established itself as someone quite capable of finally earning its first-ever Section III title.
The Red Rams did this by taking out its neighbors from Fayetteville-Manlius, 2-1, in Saturday's championship game, a reversal from the 2008 tournament, when F-M prevailed 4-2.
A season ago, J-D, with just four seniors on its roster, made a surprise run to the Section III Class A finals. And though the dream of a title ended with a loss to Cortland, the Rams, who finished at 12-8-1, learned that it could play at a high level.
Absorbing those lessons, J-D returned most of its starting lineup for the '09 campaign, while F-M saw more departures after going 13-4-2 a season ago, falling in the Class AA quarterfinals to Cicero-North Syracuse.
Each of the local sides sailed through the opening round, though, as J-D blanked Watertown 3-0 and F-M rolled past New Hartford 5-1.
Right away, senior Tori Nies established her offensive credentials for the Red Rams, scoring twice against the Cyclones. Tessa Devereaux added a goal, with Tara Prosak contributing an assist.
F-M had a 3-0 edge on New Hartford by halftime in the other opening-round match, maintaining the pressure with its own line of proven veterans.
Danielle Kennedy earned two goals, part of a balanced attack where Jessica Straub, Rebecca Bowyer and Morgan Same also converted. Allison Baynes, Cheyenne Hall, Sara Rothschild and Shannon Blanford each had one assist.
So F-M would meet J-D again in Saturday's final, and the Rams quickly went ahead 1-0, maintaing that edge until halftime.
Rothschild, with an unassisted goal, got the Hornets on the board, but the Red Rams used goals by Nies and Devereaux to prevail. Jessica Holmes added an assist.
J-D's win here proved a sharp contrast to the boys team, who opened Friday with a 2-0 loss to defending Class B champion Skaneateles.
And on the girls end, Manlius-Pebble Hill also met a Class B champion, falling to Westhill 4-0.