Cazenovia Seventy-nine years without a state championship. That’s how long Cazenovia Central High School’s drought lasted.
But two years ago the Lakers field hockey program showered their school with a Class C title — a championship which also marked the culmination of an 11-year turnaround under coach Lorraine Schefitc.
“Our whole section was behind us,” Schefitc said. “Our community was behind us. Out school was behind us. So that I think helped make it more exciting.”
A second title one year later multiplied that excitement as Cazenovia established itself as a state power. Overtime victories and collegiate opportunities dotted the timeline of the Lakers’ rise to the top.
Both Class C state championship games were won on sudden-death shots, and many of the players who graduated from those team are making a mark at the collegiate level.
Heading into the 2012 season, the Lakers are gearing up to protect another championship, set on extending the unheralded run to a three-peat.
“I think it’s just the type of student-athletes that we get,” Schefitc said. “They’ve very driven. They’re really hard-working. Even though we don’t get the numbers that come with the bigger schools, we get a dedicated bunch and a group that knows each other.”
Schefitc took the varsity head coaching job in 2000 after serving in a modified position. The mediocre program she inherited was far from championship form, but Schefitc gradually built it back up.
Injecting a new energy in the program, the Lakers eventually began to make their mark in the Onondaga High School League. Each year brought increased participating as the team delved further into the post-season each year.
From 2006 to 2009, Cazenovia won four straight Section III titles, but each time was upended early in the state playoffs. Forced to play in a Class C vs. D play in game — while the A and B sectional winners advanced straightaway — made each Lakers’ run one step more challenging.