Soccer Lakers stage memorable run to state championship

For a long time, followers of the Skaneateles boys soccer team had to watch, helpless, as other programs, such as Westhill and Marcellus, achieve the highest honors, often at the Lakers' expense.

They also bore witness as a wide range of Skaneateles teams - from cross country in the fall to ice hockey in the winter to lacrosse in the spring - piled up championships of every variety.

Even this September, as the 2010 season began, this particular group of Lakers, with talent everywhere on its roster and particularly high expectations, was overshadowed as the football coaching debut of Tim Green drew all the headlines.

Everything has changed now. That's what going 22-0 and winning its first-ever state Class B championship will do.

This was not an overnight transformation. Skaneateles won a sectional title two years ago with many of the same players that would blaze through this autumn, and were in the finals again in 2009, only to lose to Marcellus.

It was that 2-1 defeat to the Mustangs, more than anything else, that would give the Lakers its primary motivation for this season - even if it had no idea just how great it would end up.

Head coach Kirk Atwater, along with assistants Aaron Moss, Jon Dower and Pete O'Connor, had most of the pieces firmly in place. Up front, a quartet of attackers - seniors Kevin Rice, Jeff Baldetti and Spencer Parker, plus junior A.J. RIchichi - brought a deadly combination of speed and skill.

A deep group of midfielders, which included Jeff Higman, Ryan Farrell, Alex Brownlee and Jared Amory, would offer underrated support for that front line. And in the back, sweeper Mike Richards, flanked by Tim Lewis and Zach Brownlee, offered expert defensive work.

The only real question was in goal. Prior to this season, Trevor Diamond had not played much there, but he used his athleticism and poise to fit in quickly and turn into a first-rate keeper.

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