Throughout the entire spring, the Marcellus boys lacrosse team had inched closer to the kind of breakthrough performance that signaled to all of Central New York that a new powerhouse had arrived.
Should that take place, Mustang fans can look back on Thursday’s 14-8 victory over Christian Brothers Academy in the Section III Class C quarterfinal at Alibrandi Stadium as a possible turning point.
In every phase of the game, Marcellus, the no. 6 seed, outclassed CBA, the no. 3 seed, playing with fire and intensity the host Brothers simply could not match.
Intentions were signaled right away, as Dalton Wenzel took the opening face-off, raced down the field and scored just 10 seconds into the game. Even though Andrew Romagnoli answered just six seconds later, the tone was set.
Rarely did anyone on CBA’s side better Wenzel in the face-off circle. His clean wins on the draw gave Marcellus more possession time, and would remain the case throughout the afternoon as the margin kept growing.
The Mustangs took the lead for good when Tom McNaney and Nick Nye scored just 10 seconds apart midway through the opening period. Steadily, for the rest of the half the Mustangs answered each time CBA tried to get close.
Even when too much aggression led to a series of yellow flags, the Marcellus defense stopped all of CBA’s man-up opportunities in the first half, a main reason why the Mustangs went to the break with an 8-4 lead.
Anchoring the back line was Nye and Jason Decker, who took turns shutting down CBA’s top player, Cody Radziewicz, holding him to just two goals, well below his season point average. And goalie Chris Martin was superb, turning away 18 of the 26 shots he faced.
On the attack, Marcellus kept waiting for the kill shot – and got it late in the third quarter when Connor Wheeler, who already had a three-goal hat trick, hit three more times in a span of 1:52, giving him six for the day and all but sealing the Mustangs’ win.