Apr 08, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
There was a fairly good reason why the Skaneateles boys lacrosse team mobbed sophomore goalie Ryan Higman after the final horn sounded in Friday night’s 10-8 victory over visiting Cazenovia.
For in this highly-anticipated battle of Laker teams favored to duel for Section III Class C honors this spring, it was Higman’s sharp work in the net, combined with a sturdy back line, that allowed Skaneateles to finish in front.
Going into 2011, the biggest question facing Skaneateles in its quest to repeat as sectional champions was how the defense would fare. With the likes of Kevin Rice, Paul O’Donnell, Mike Richards and Zach Brownlee working on the attack, there wouldn’t be a problem scoring goals.
That was evident in Wednesday night’s season opener, a 23-10 win over Christian Brothers Academy at Alibrandi Stadium where Rice and O’Donnell both scored six times and the Lakers used 10 goals in the second quarter to take charge.
For the home opener, the challenge was much greater. Cazenovia had roared out to a 4-0 start and had scored 82 total goals in routs over CBA, Manlius-Pebble Hill, LaFayette and Jordan-Elbridge. Containing them appeared a tall order.
And early in the first half, the two Laker sides did take part in a fast-paced exchange. It was 3-3 when, early in the second quarter, Rice, Richards and O’Donnell hit on consecutive goals to push Skaneateles ahead 6-3, only to see Cazenovia pull within one, 6-5, when Brad Nardella and Mason Powell converted.
It stayed that way deep into the third period. Skaneateles, in fact, would go more than 16 minutes without a goal and fall behind, 7-6, before O’Donnell hit on his fourth goal to pull his team even again.
Yet even as Richards’s third goal put his team ahead 8-7, Skaneateles found itself spending long periods of time in its own end, protecting against the potent Cazenovia attack. Somehow, defenders Trevor Diamond, Brady Hueber and Mike Card kept making key stops, at times even blocking shots with their bodies.
Rice, always one to step up his game in a tight situation, fired home his second and third goals early in the fourth quarter, the latter a response to Powell’s second tally that made it 9-8.
Neither side would score again. Cazenovia had all kinds of chances to inch closer in the last nine minutes, but again the defense stepped up – and Higman was clutch, too, making four consecutive saves in one sequence to give him 14 for the night.
The Lakers’ season commenced last Wednesday night, at Alibrandi Stadium, when it fell behind CBA early, but atoned with a tremendous second-quarter outburst.
Opening-night jitters may have crept into the Lakers’ minds during the first period as CBA, fired up to face Skaneateles, sneaked out in front 4-3 – but that would be the last good moment for the home side.
For once the second period started, the Lakers could do little wrong on the offensive side. In those 12 minutes, Skaneateles amassed 10 goals, most of them by Rice or O’Donnell.
And it didn’t stop there, as the Lakers also outscored CBA 10-3 in the second half, not stopping until Rice had amassed 10 overall points through six goals and four assists. O’Donnell also found the net six times, one of the best totals of his varsity career.
Behind them, Brownlee managed four goals and one assist, while Richards got two goals and three assists and Brenden Major also scored twice. Farrell, Jeff Higman and Connor O’Hara put up one goal apiece. Ryan Higman, taking over in goal for Winkleman, finished with 13 saves – but would get better a couple of nights later.
Skaneateles now stares at three straight road games next week, trips to Jordan-Elbridge and Westhill and, most importantly, a visit next Thursday night to Marcellus, the first of two meetings with the rival Mustangs (who have started 4-0 under first-year head coach Leo McInerney) in as many weeks.