Without the heroics of Sean McCaffery - plus some solid defense - it's doubtful that the Cicero-North Syracuse boys lacrosse team walks away from Friday night's game against Central Square with a victory.
But with McCaffery around, the Northstars did just enough to beat the Red Hawks 7-6 in a tense battle at Bragman Stadium.
Trouble came at the start, as Central Square won early face-offs and slowed the tempo down, rarely letting CNS get a chance to attack.
So the Northstars were down, 2-0, when McCaffery started to stir. His goals helped CNS rally and tie it, 3-3, going into halftime.
Then the Northstars inched ahead in the third quarter, only to have the Red Hawks stage its own late rally. Not until McCaffery hit his fifth goal, with 2:40 to play in regulation, could CNS pull ahead for good.
Mike Debottis and Nick Russo had the other CNS goals, with DeBottis adding a pair of assists and Rob Spenard earning an assist. The Northstars' defense kept making key stops, especially in the late going, as Brian Pitonzo finished wtih 11 saves, five less than Central Square counterpart Tyler Hall.
In what amounted to little more than a tune-up for the Red Hawks, the Northstars toyed with Nottingham last Tuesday night in Syracuse, flying past the Bulldogs 15-1.
The Northstars pitched a 6-0 shutout in the first quarter. Nottingham's lone tally came in the second period, and CNS responded by blanking the hosts the rest of the way.
Debottis, with four goals, and Scott Slater, with two goals and three assists, led the winning effort. Russo and Dave Banks matched Slater's two-goal output, while McCaffery, Jacob Kurtz, Justin Petrie, Matt Strezlecki and Joe Paladin earned single goals.
At 6-1 following the Central Square scare, CNS would get two big road tests during the spring-break week, going to Auburn Tuesday and Corcoran on Thursday.