Much of Saturday's Section III Class C boys lacrosse semifinal between Westhill and LaFayette at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium was an even battle.
That wasn't the case in the game's opening stages, though - all the time it took for the Warriors' championship dreams to get snuffed.
Bent on avenging a regular-season loss to Westhill, the defending champion Lancers bolted way out in front and never got caught, forcing the Warriors to take a 14-8 defeat.
Westhill knew all about the motivation for payback, having used it to upset no. 2 seed Cazenovia in the quarterfinals two days earlier. And it knew LaFayette would remember the Warriors' 12-9 win over them on May 3.
Still, Westhill could not have imagined that, in just eight minutes' time, it would fall behind 6-0.
More than anyone, Lyle Thompson caused all the trouble, winning all the early face-offs and getting three of those six goals, leaving the Warriors in shock.
Somehow, Westhill shook this off and outscored LaFayette the rest of the half. Goals by Tris Nicola, Dylan Tripodi, Owen Nicola and Alex Lesins made it 8-4 at the break, with John Zimmerman contributing three assists.
Early in the third period, Tris Nicola hit again, cutting the deficit to 8-5, and all the momentum appeared to be on the Warriors' side.
LaFayette had an answer, though, getting goals from Thompson, Nate Beresovoy and Jeremy Beresovoy to build the margin back up to 11-5.
Then, after Sal Valenti scored for Westhill, Thompson offered the decisive blow, getting a fifth goal and, after cleanly winning the ensuing face-off, charged down the field and converted again six seconds later.
Tris and Owen Nicola combined for five of Westhill's eight goals, while Christian Vadala got two goals and Mark McAnaney finished with 10 saves. To help Lyle Thompson, Jeremy Beresovoy earned three goals, while Miles Thompson had a goal and three assists. LaFayette advanced to face unbeaten Skaneateles (who beat Cortland 19-9) in Wednesday's Class C final.
So ended the Warriors' 11-8 season, which included those big wins over LaFayette and Cazenovia. Lesins, Tripodi, Valenti and Tris Nicola depart, but Zimmerman, McAnaney and Vadala lead a solid returning cast in 2011.