Lakers state title culminates long climb to top

It was a celebration five years - or more - in the making.

When Jillian Vogl's shot found the net in overtime on Nov. 20 at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium, the Cazenovia field hockey team had achieved the first state championship by any Laker team in the school's history.

Yet this was far from an overnight success story. Four straight times, the Lakers had gone into the state tournament, only to get eliminated long before the championship round.

Breaking that spell required the same traits that all championship teams carry - a fair amount of talent, for sure, but also a larger amount of leadership and, whenever it was needed, an ability to make the big plays.

Not too long ago, just winning a Section III title was a big accomplishment. In both 2004 and 2005, head coach Lorraine Scheftic's Lakers made it to the finals, only to get beat, and followers wondered if the breakthrough would ever take place.

Then came 2006, when the Lakers trailed Holland Patent in the closing seconds of regulation in the Class B finals on the same Bragman Stadium turf where greater glory would be achieved four years later.

But the Lakers got a goal to force overtime against the Golden Knights, then won in that extra period 3-2 to finally claim the sectional banner. Great as that was, though, a different kind of frustration would soon set in.

Starting in '06, and continuing through the next three years, the pattern would repeat itself. Each time, Cazenovia would blaze to a Section III title (it moved from Class B to C in 2007) - and each time, it would lose in the regional playoffs. That included a 7-0 defeat to Marathon in '08 and a 4-0 loss to those same Olympians in '09.

This was the background for Cazenovia going into 2010, who figured that if a regional title, or even a state title, was ever going to happen, now was the time.

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