Even at 16-0, even as the state's top-ranked team, and even with a no. 1 seed, the Skaneateles boys soccer team might end up having the toughest possible climb to earn a Section III Class B championship.
At least the first two steps for the Lakers up the tournament ladder involve beating long-time rivals in the OHSL Liberty division who know every intricate detail of what Skaneateles does on the field, which is bound to make things trickier - at least in theory.
Or the Lakers could simply do what it has accomplished every other time it stared down an obstacle this fall - namely, win.
And the winning continued Friday night when one of those big rivals, no. 8 seed Marcellus, paid a visit to Skaneateles - and left the field two hours later with its season over as the Lakers shut them out, 3-0, in the Class B quarterfinals.
This was, of course, the same match-up as the 2009 sectional final, where Marcellus won. But while the Mustangs underwent a coaching change and complete turnover of its starting lineup, Sknaeateles returned most of its stars, with nothing less than championships as a target.
During the regular season, the quest included two wins over Marcellus. However, a 3-2 victory on the Mustangs' turf just a week before the playoffs suggested that, perhaps, the defending champions were catching up to the Lakers - and a 7-0 first-round romp over Ilion, where Cal Filtch and Keenan Vaughn both notched three-goal hat tricks, only added to the concern.
The nerves among the Laker faithful only grew during the first half as Skaneateles unleashed a wave of attacks, but could not get anything past red-hot Marcellus goalie Mitch Schoenbrun, who would finish with 19 saves. They went to the break 0-0, Marcellus perhaps thinking that another conquest was within reach.