No doubt, the Cazenovia boys lacrosse team is closer to the top of the Section III Class C ranks than the bottom.
Still, more work remains if the Lakers are to get all the way to the summit - as shown Friday night when it battled hard against defending Class C champion Skaneateles, yet still took a 10-8 defeat.
Having dominated each of its four opponents so far, Cazenovia knew that Skaneateles, who had blasted past CBA 23-10 in its opener, would offer a far sterner test.
Still, in the early stages Cazenovia got the pace it wanted in this battle of Laker teams. Both sides were sprinting up and down the field, looking for shots as soon as there was an opening.
This led to a 3-3 draw through the end of the opening period, and after Skaneateles seized a 6-3 edge early in the second quarter, Cazenovia closed within 6-5 midway through the period.
When Sean Cannizzaro and John Greacen converted early in the third quarter, Cazenovia had a 7-6 lead, and its defense was doing a superb job, holding Skaneateles off the board for more than 16 minutes of game time.
Despite this, though, and despite holding the ball for much of the second half, Cazenovia could not stay in front. Skaneateles was back in an 8-7 lead by the start of the fourth quarter, and got two goals from star senior Kevin Rice early in that frame - the second after Mason Powell had closed the gap to one with 10:04 left.
Through those closing minutes, Cazenovia put on a relentless attack, yet constantly threw shots wide or high. And when the shots did go on target, Skaneateles sophomore goalie Ryan Higman got a stick on them, finishing with 14 saves.
Powell and Greacen were the only Cazenovia players to score twice. Sam Lewis, Matt Donovan and Brad Nardella joined Cannizzaro in the one-goal column. Ben Romagnoli made eight saves. All the Skaneateles goals came from three players as Paul O'Donnell found the net three times, with Rice (three goals, three assists) and Mike Richards (three goals, two assists) handling the rest.