A 14-2 record and a no. 6 state ranking did not give the Cazenovia boys lacrosse team any extra favors as far as the Section III Class C playoffs was concerned.
Given the no. 2 seed, the Lakers had to, right away, confront a scary opponent in no. 7 seed Westhill folowing a first-round bye.
And those fears were justified, as the Warriors came to the Fenner Street complex on Thursday and stunned Cazenovia 9-6, abruptly ending the Lakers' title run before it could even start.
Cazenovia had reason to be concerned about Westhill. Just a week earlier, the Warriors arrived at Fenner and put a big scare into the Lakers, even though the hosts won by an 8-7 margin.
Now Westhill returned, fresh off a first-round playoff win over Onondaga, and again established the tempo it wanted, slowing things down and not letting the potent Cazenovia offense get too many chances.
Thus, even though the Lakers led 5-4 at the break, it was vulnerable - and Westhill exploited that vulnerability once the second half got underway.
A rough third quarter saw Cazenovia outscored, 5-1, and though it had chances to rally late, it could not put a shot past red-hot Westhill goalie Mark McAnaney, who finished with 16 saves.
John Greacen, in defeat, scored three times, but the Lakers' main line went quiet, as Connor Cannizzaro and Brett Axelson had just one goal apiece and Sean Cannizzaro managed only two assists. Sam Lewis had the other goal.
For the victorious Warriors, who advanced to face defending champion LaFayette in the Class C semifinals, John Zimmerman and Tris Nicola each had three goals, with Zimmerman adding a pair of assists.
Now the Lakers will see Axelson, Justin Hoffmann, Alec Cross, Tom Colligan and Brett Gifford depart. The return of Lewis, Greacen and both Cannizzaro brothers should make Cazenovia dangerous again in 2011.