So a season-defining showdown is set - the Skaneateles boys soccer team meeting Clinton for the Section III Class B championship.
It's the rare case of two undefeated teams squaring off, the Lakers and Warriors both sporting 18-0 marks in the wake of Tuesday night's Class B semifinals. Playing on the turf at Marcellus High School, Skaneateles beat no 5 seed Westhill 3-0, marking the third time it has knocked off the Warriors this fall.
In those previous meetings, the Lakers had prevailed 4-3 on Sept. 14, a back-and-forth affair where top defender Tim Lewis sat out due to injury, and 5-1 on Oct. 5, where Skaneateles had four unanswered goals in the first half to take charge.
This third, and most important, encounter followed the pattern of the second game, with Skaneateles putting together its usual amount of bold attacks, combining it with a superb defensive effort that never allowed Westhill more than a handful of chances.
By halftime, the Lakers led 2-0, and it would tack on one more goal in the late going. Kevin Rice, Zach Brownlee and Jeff Baldetti each had one goal, with A.J. Richichi and Ryan Farrell picking up assists. Trevor Diamond stopped all five shots he faced.
Clinton's 2-0 victory over South Jefferson in the other Class B semifinal at CBA's Alibrandi Stadium sets up this classic showdown. It's the Lakers' high-powered attack against a Warrior defense that has allowed a grand total of five goals all season. Something will have to give.
Meanwhile, the Skaneateles girls soccer team saw its title dreams end in Tuesday night's Class B semifinal at West Genesee, the no. 11 seed Lakers falling to no. 2 seed Marcellus in a 3-0 decision.
For much of the night, the Lakers, who lost 2-1 and 3-1 decisions to Marcellus during the regular season, stayed close, thanks to a vastly improved defense. Erica Nye, Shelby McNeilly, Katie Baldwin and the rest of the back line broke up a long string of Mustang attacks.
The Mustangs still took a 1-0 lead when Kathryn Busa's shot slipped off the hands of goalie Mary Buck and crept past the line in the 22nd minute. There it remained until a late surge where, twice in a span of four minutes, Marcellus converted as Jessie Nye and Jackie Epp got the insurance goals.
Marcellus advanced to face Westhill in the Class B finals Friday night at SUNY-Cortland. The Lakers finish with a mark of 7-10-2, but graduate just three seniors, meaning that a big and talented lineup returns for 2011.