Jun 04, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
If it sounds familiar – Cazenovia moving within two wins of a state championship with a tense, exciting one-goal victory over Salmon River – well, it is.
When the boys lacrosse Lakers needed John Greacen’s goal 1:30 into overtime to fight past Salmon River 14-13 in Saturday’s Class C regional final at Potsdam High School, it matched what the ice hockey Lakers did exactly three months ago when it beat the Shamrocks in the same round of the state playoffs.
Granted, the hockey game, won 4-3 by Cazenovia, didn’t go to overtime, as this one did. But both contests required the Lakers to come from behind and handle late-game pressure, something that had become unfamiliar as Cazenovia’s lacrosse side steamrolled to its first-ever Section III Class C title and an easy first-round regional win over Chenango Forks earlier this week.
With so many familiar faces on both sides eager to resume their hockey clash, Cazenovia threatened to run away early against Salmon River, a team that had dominated Section X play and was 17-0, but had not faced anything close to the level of competition the Lakers had dealt with in Central New York.
Through one period, the Lakers enjoyed a 6-1 lead as, once again, Greacen and Joe Nardella dominated in the face-off circle, giving Cazenovia’s potent attack extra possessions and lots of scoring chances which it converted.
At this point, Salmon River switched goalies, inserting Cody Johnson, and his stops seemed to fire up the Shamrocks. For the rest of the half, Salmon River attacked hard, pushing through the Lakers’ defenses for four goals in the late stages of the half and pulling within two, 8-6, as they went to the break.
The rest cooled off the Shamrocks a bit, as Cazenovia restored a 10-7 margin by the middle part of the third quarter. Just then, though, Salmon River started to roll again, picking up four straight goals to charge into the lead and getting another tally from Quinn Powless less than a second before the period ended.
Now the Lakers were down 12-10, and its quest for the program’s first state lacrosse championship appeared in serious jeopardy.Perhaps at this moment, Cazenovia remembered that it had rallied in a similar situation to beat LaFayette in overtime in the middle of the regular season, and in the fourth quarter it staged another comeback.
It had pulled within one when, with 2:30 left in regulation, Connor Cannizzaro beat Johnson for the equalizer. Pushing hard to win it, the Lakers got two great shots in the closing seconds of regulation, but Johnson stopped both of them.
Each overtime period is scheduled for four minutes. Yet it didn’t take long for the Lakers to win another face-off and attack. Off a ground ball, Greacen picked it up, moved within five yards of the net on a solo run before flinging the decisive shot past Johnson.
The game-winner gave Greacen a three-goal hat trick, though it was Connor Cannizzaro leading the point total as he augmented his three goals with five assists.
Sean Cannizzaro chimed in with two goals and four assists, while Joe Nardella and Mason Powell each had their own two-goal outings. Brad Nardella and Matt Donovan scored, too, as goalie Ben Romagnoli finished with 11 saves. Salmon River’s Seth Oakes led both sides with seven goals, adding an assist.
On Wednesday night at 8 p.m., Cazenovia goes to St. John Fisher College, near Rochester, to face West Region champion Silver Creek in the state Class C semifinal. It’s also the first state semifinal for the Black Knights, who knocked off Penn Yan 15-8 in its regional final.
The winner will go to Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium on June 11 at 4 p.m. to face Bronxville or Bayport-Blue Point with a state championship on the line.