Though it only had a 5-9-2 regular-season record, the Skaneateles girls soccer team still earned a berth in the Section III Class B playoffs - and has picked a good time to get hot.
Two big wins in a 48-hour span have helped move the no. 11 seed Lakers into the semifinals, where it will get a chance to avenge two regular-season defeats to archrival Marcellus.
Thanks to Diane Vitkus, Skaneateles made it through one big road test as it went to Adams and knocked off no. 6 seed South Jefferson 2-0 in last Tuesday's opening round.
Even though the Spartans entered the game with a 12-3-1 mark, it had not faced the kind of day-in, day-out tests that Skaneateles dealt with from the likes of Marcellus, Solvay and Westhill in the OHSL Liberty division.
So it wasn't a big surprise that, in the first half, the Lakers played on even terms with South Jefferson, getting just as many offensive opportunities. And while it remained 0-0, the visitors' confidence slowly grew.
Still, patient was needed as, midway through the second half, it was still scoreless as both sides waited for someone to break through.
Vitkus would do so. She pushed a shot past Spartans goalie Bailey Graves in the 63rd minute, giving Skanetaeles a 1-0 lead, and just five minutes later Vitkus returned and got an insurance goal.
All game long, the Lakers' defense proved strong and consistent, preserving the shutout as goalie Mary Buck only had to make six saves.
Two nights later, Skaneateles was back on the bus again, making another long road trip - this time east, to face no. 3 Ilion in the Class B quarterfinals.
Again, it would be close, and again, it would go to overtime - but again, Skaneateles was up to the challenge, prevailing 3-2 in overtime over the Golden Bombers.