Cicero Even as two-time defending state Class B champions, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys lacrosse team eyed its return to the state playoffs in 2012 with the appropriate caution.
In the wake of a 13-7 win over Carthage in the Section III final last Wednesday night, Red Rams players and coaches alike were saying that the games would get closer.
J-D quickly found out how much closer it would get during Saturday’s regional final at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium, where it had to work all four quarters to eliminate Section IV champion Vestal by a score of 11-8.
A year earlier, in this same regional round, the Red Rams had pounded Vestal 16-4, and early indications were of a similar rout as J-D roared to 5-1 lead by the early portion of the second quarter.
But these Golden Bears would fight back, notching its own four-goal run to tie it, 5-5, late in the half before a tally late in the half allowed the Rams to go to the break nursing a 6-5 edge.
When Vestal pulled back even 6-6 early in the third period, some concern went through the J-D fans. But the Rams moved back ahead, 8-6, as Jordan Evans and Deke Burns hit on some key goals late in that period.
J-D’s defense, such a crucial part of past state title games, came to the forefront in the latter stages. Back-line players like Jesse Evensky and Scott Firman forced Vestal into turnovers, and goalie Joe Shapiro made a pair of big stops early in the fourth quarter, keeping his team in front as he finished with 10 saves.
Meanwhile, Burns and Evans hit three times between them in the final period. Burns, who had just one goal against Carthage, rebounded by getting five goals here, while Evans backed up his three-goal hat trick with a trio of a assists.
Mike Perkins, McLaren Brady and Ryan Wright had the other goals, with Lucas Johnson joining Perkins in the assist column.
J-D gets one more outing at Bragman Stadium this Wednesday night, playing Section V champion Irondequoit in the Class B state semifinal at 8 p.m. Irondequoit knocked off Hamburg 10-8 in its regional final.
If the Red Rams win, it goes to Middletown High School Saturday to play Garden City (whom it beat for the state title in 2010 and 2011) or Yorktown for the ultimate prize.