Ristoff hat trick leads Warriors past Caz

So the lights were working again at Westhill High School Thursday night - but Kelly Ristoff still managed to be lights-out, at least in a figurative way.

Ristoff used one of the quickest hat tricks ever seen in the annals of Section III girls soccer to carry the defending Class B champion Westhill Warriors past the Cazenovia Lakers 4-1 on Thursday night.

It proved to be an exciting kickoff to the most pivotal homestand of the Warriors' season. Over a span of 14 days, Westhill would play four key home games - first Cazenovia, then Solvay, then Skaneateles, and finally Marcellus on Sept. 30. This accounts for the entire field of acknowledged OHSL Liberty division contenders.

Cazenovia came first, already in a strong position in league play thanks to home wins over Marcellus and Solvay, the latter a 4-3 overtime decision two days before coming to Westhill.

And it was the Lakers who struck first, 11:11 into the game. Barely a minute after Ristoff hit an open header over the net, Cazenovia's Rachel Burbidge charged down the right end and crossed to the middle, where Katie Kleine slid a shot past Meredith Rice.

Down 1-0, Westhill's defense settled down, and though Kleine would get many more chances during the night, the Lakers would not add to its total.

Then, with 11:28 in the first half, Ristoff, just a sophomore, began her star turn.

When Cazenovia's defense could not clear the ball out of its own end, Ristoff, at the top of the 18-yard square, lofted a shot over the head of Laker goalie Jamie Enders into the top of the net.

It was 1-1 - but not for long. Just 1:23 later, Ristoff took another Cazenovia turnover, charged to the net and fired home the go-ahead goal.

And less than a minute after that conversion, Ristoff charged down the left side, then fired a hard 25-yard shot past Enders.

All told, it was three goals, a natural hat trick, done in a span of two minutes, 18 seconds, and Cazenovia could not recover.

As extra insurance, Emily Haggerty landed a goal less than five minutes into the second half to present the final margin.

Westhill gets those key home games with Solvay next Tuesday and Skaneateles next Friday, while Cazenovia must go to Manlius-Pebble Hill and Skaneateles before coming home to face Phoenix.

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