When the first state boys lacrosse rankings were released last week, Jamesville-DeWitt was right on top, and about to prove why it deserved that mantle.
The defending state Class B champion Red Rams met Fairport, who was no. 8 in the state Class A poll, on Saturday and, with trademark defense and well-timed scoring bursts, beat the Red Raiders for the second year in a row in an 8-4 decision.
Having played a year ago at Onondaga Community College, J-D and Fairport knew each other well. What neither side could have expected was the way the Rams' defense would clamp down on the Red Raiders through much of the rematch.
Working on the back line, brothers Nick and Scott Firman, along with Davi Sacco and long sticks Matt Kopp and Russell Runions forced Fairport outside its comfort zone and caused a full array of turnovers, then dominated in picking up the ground balls.
And when that didn't work, Dan DiStefano could always make a spectacular save or two. All told, DiStefano faced 10 shots in the first half - and stopped every one of them, eventually finishing with 14 saves.
That defense was needed, too. Other than Jordan Evans twice scoring in the game's first four minutes, neither side could convert the entire first half. J-D's 2-0 lead at the break was quite perilous, given the quality of the opponent.
Sure enough, an offensive flurry broke out midway through the third quarter, after McLaren Brady had made it 3-0. Twice, Fairport would score. Both times, J-D offered quick answers as Evans and Alex Hatem scored.
So J-D led 5-2 going into the fourth quarter, and put things away with Evans putting home his fourth goal, Brady finding the net again and Deke Burns scoring with 4:46 left.
Before facing Fairport, the Red Rams tuned up last Tuesday at home by routing Whitesboro 20-2. That game included a 10-goal first-quarter surge as J-D decided things quite early.
Burns and Evans both found the net four times, combining for three assists. Hatem and Tim Edwards had three-goal hat tricks, while Brady scored twice, just as he would against Fairport. Steve Aziz, Justin Diamond, Adam Goss and Brad Diamond earned one goal apiece.
All this leads to an even bigger event next Saturday as J-D hosts West Genesee, winner of the last nine Section III Class A titles. Game time is 1 p.m. and follows home games against East Syracuse-Minoa and New Hartford earlier in the week.