Jun 01, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Deep into Tuesday night, the Skaneateles girls lacrosse team still believed it could take down Carthage in the Section III Class C championship game at SUNY-Cortland.
The Lakers believed it despite falling behind 3-0 in the opening minutes. They believed it though a key midfielder exited the stage early. And they kept believing it even as they trailed the Comets by four goals with less than three minutes to play.
Only when Diane Vitkus got checked on her last charge to the net as the final seconds ticked away did the dream fall short as Carthage held on for a 9-8 victory and its second straight overall sectional title – both times coming at the Lakers’ expense.
“Nobody thought we would be here,” head coach Bridget Marquardt said. “But we gave them all they could handle. We fought to the end.”
And that was a far better conclusion than what took place on this same Cortland turf in the sectional final 12 months ago. Carthage won big that time, 19-9, its speed and skill far too much for the overwhelmed Lakers to handle.
Now, having just recorded a splendid effort in its 12-6 romp over top seed CBA in the C-2 championship game, Skaneateles knew that kind of mastery would be needed again if it wanted to conquer the Comets.
So it wasn’t fazed when Carthage’s Katherine DeRonda scored 10 seconds into the game. After all, CBA’s Katie Webster had done the same (converting 11 seconds into the C-2 final), and look how that turned out.
Then again, the Comets, unlike the Brothers, didn’t stop there, extending the margin to 3-0 as DeRonda and Emily Sauter scored 29 seconds apart.
Worse yet, a frustrated Carly Davis (who scored four goals against CBA) went to the sidelines with two yellow cards before the game was six minutes old, depriving the Lakers of a key defensive force.
Yet somehow the Lakers regrouped on defense, blanking Carthage for more than 20 minutes and climbing back into the game on goals by Vitkus and Maddy Morrissey.
Showcasing its own strong defense, the Comets denied Skaneateles on several scoring opportunities. And when Kempney and Katie Ferris put in two goals eight seconds apart early in the second half to make it 6-2, Marquardt had to use a time-out.
“Defensively, we followed our game plan,” Marquardt said. “But offensively, we struggled.”
Again, the Lakers fought back, using goals by Morrissey and Vitkus to pull within 6-4. But after an exchange of tallies made it 7-5, Carthage appeared to put things away when, late in regulation, DeRonda and Alexis Egeberg hit on goals to double the margin to 9-5.
Perhaps a season ago, such a circumstance would have overwhelmed the Lakers – but not now.
Shelby McNeilly began the last rally, scoring with 2:52 left. Just 30 seconds later, Vitkus returned, charging through the Comets’ defense and beating Ellyse Ricahrdson to make it 9-7.
Carthage had a difficult time clearing the ball out in the final minute. Vitkus forced her way in for a shot – and converted again with 13.5 seconds left.
“They (Carthage) were scared,” Marquardt said.
And the Comets remained worried when the Lakers came up with the ensuing draw, forced a foul and got one more chance. Vitkus went in – but lost control as the clock hit zero.
Skaneateles finished with a 15-5 mark. Six seniors, including Morrissey, Caroline Standford, Abby Sobolevsky, Aly Davis, Grace Kelly and Allison Steckel, depart. But a big returning cast (including Vitkus, McNeilly, Shannon Byrne, Emma Ford, Erin Callahan, Taylor Kerr and Aly Davis) should give the Lakers a chance to get back to the top in 2011.
“I’m disappointed that we lost, but I’m proud of what we accomplished this year,” Marquardt said.
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