It's not every night that the Marcellus girls lacrosse team gets a chance to beat the top-ranked team in the state.
So when the Mustangs possessed that opportunity Thursday night at Alibrandi Stadium, it pulled through, fighting past Christian Brothers Academy 12-11 in an exciting contest not decided until the closing seconds.
Clinging to that slim one-goal margin in the last minute of regulation, Marcellus was on the defensive side as CBA twice had chances to tie it and force overtime. Both times, though, sophomore goalie Renee Poullott made the clutch stops, first on Caroline Webster, then on Marisa Romeo just before time ran out. All told, Poullott made 11 saves for the night.
Given what happened the last time Marcellus faced a major Class C contender (a 9-8 last-second defeat to Skaneateles on March 31), a lot was at stake at CBA before the first state Class C rankings came out. Then they were posted - CBA at no. 1, Skaneateles at no. 2, and Marcellus at no. 6.
With more motivation and energy to knock CBA off its lofty perch, the Mustangs absorbed an early flurry by the Brothers (goals by Taylor Poplawski and Taylor Gait 10 seconds apart) and, by the middle of the first half, had taken charge.
Of course, senior Nora Barry led the assault, getting three goals in the first 11-plus minutes and also playing first-rate defense. A bigger story, though, was the way Molly McGuane won numerous draws, then gained her own three-goal hat trick. Late in the first half, Marcellus enjoyed a 7-2 lead.
It nearly got bigger before CBA goalie Courtney Henderson made back-to-back point-blank stops, and goals by Poplawski and Romeo cut the margin to 7-4 by halftime. With newfound momentum, the Brothers moved within one, 7-6, early in the second half before, in a span of 1:08, Barry converted her fourth goal and Ellen Brooks scored, the lead growing to 9-6.