On the long bus ride back from the north country Saturday afternoon, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys lacrosse team could breathe once more.
An undefeated regular season and 13-game win streak both were in serious jeopardy throughout the Red Rams' trip to Carthage. Only with a flurry in the final two minutes did J-D get out with a 7-6 victory over the Comets.
These two teams have dominated Section III Class B lacrosse in recent years, with many showdowns in sectional finals - including 2009, when J-D prevailed. And they appeared to be hurdling toward another championship showdown early in June, with J-D no. 2 in the state Class B rankings and Carthage at no. 9.
Unlike many times in years past, the Comets didn't have to make the lengthy road trip to the Syracuse area. It also had no intention of letting J-D's high-octane offense gain too much of a footing.
Thus, after the Rams scored twice in the game's first 30 seconds, it did not score again the rest of the period as Carthage rallied to tie it, 2-2. J-D moved ahead 4-2 in the second quarter, but the Comets closed within a goal, 4-3, just before the break.
Out of its rhythm, the Rams committed a series of turnovers, but also forced Carthage into mistakes, too. Defenders Mac Feiner, Matt Kopp and Dima Bakrukov were steady throughout the day, and Dan DiStefano finished with 11 saves.
Carthage still caught up, though, by the fourth quarter, then seized a 6-5 lead and had chances to go further in front, but did not. Still, having never trailed in a game in the fourth quarter all season, J-D now had to find some new resolve -- and did so.
With 1:58 left, Cam Stone, who already had three assists, fired home the tying goal. The Rams got the ball back again and, with 30 seconds to play, Stone fed Jordan Evans, who fired it past Tyler Beyor for what proved to be the game-winner.