For a Cazenovia girls lacrosse team getting accustomed to a place among the Section III elite, it was a jarring way to begin the 2010 season.
The Lakers found itself in a pitched battle with South Jefferson last Wednesday afternoon at the Fenner Street complex, ultimately going to overtime and taking a 17-15 loss to the Spartans.
In each of the last two years, head coach Mark Evans' Lakers have fallen in the Class C semifinals, beaten last year by eventual champion Carthage.
Only five seniors departed from that team, but it included key parts like all-time leading scorer Kara Cannizzaro (who went to North Carolina), Julie Gregg, Clare Dorsey and Kassie Kleine. So even with a lot of returnees, the challenge would be steep -- as South Jefferson would prove.
Despite a strong attack, all Cazenovia could do in regulation is keep up with the Spartans, who leaned on Whitley Perry's skill as she poured in seven goals. Trailing 8-7 at halftime, Cazenovia would rally, tying it at 15-15 to force overtime.
But in the OT period, the Lakers would not get a chance to pull in front, watching as Perry and Carly Van Tassel (who had three goals and two assists) convert the only goals.
Cazenovia did display a well-balanced attack. Kendra Volz had four goals, while Gabby Jaquith earned two goals and three assists. Katie Kleine added three goals and one assist. Colleen Dougherty also found the net twice as Kaitlyn Button got a goal and two assists. Jessy Silfer, Emmajean Spear and Becca Wheeler also converted as Mikaela Henn earned an assist.
Facing another tough opponent Thursday, the Lakers visited Sunnycrest Field Thursday to play Henninger/Nottingham -- but turned things around just enough to put together an 8-7 victory over the Black Knights.
Neither side could get any kind of run going in the first half, leading to a 3-3 tie. The pace would quicken in the late going, and Cazenovia would inch out in front, maintaining that lead through Lauren Devine's work as she finished with 12 saves.
On the offensive end, the Lakers got by with just three players getting goals -- Kleine and Button three each, and two from Jaquith. On Henninger/Nottingham's side, Claire Wigler and Emily Daniels (whose last-second goal beat Jordan-Elbridge two days earlier) each had three-goal hat tricks, too.
So Cazenovia is 1-1 going into Wednesday's league opener at home against Westhill, with a Saturday trip to Marcellus looming.