May 26, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A five-goal deficit, barely seven minutes to play – yes, it did look like the Cazenovia boys lacrosse team’s state Class C championship reign would conclude on the same Bragman Stadium turf where it claimed that state crown nearly 12 months ago.
Yet by the time when Ryan Cook delivered a goal 1:49 into overtime, the no. 1 seed Lakers had made it all the way back and, by an 11-10 margin, stunned no. 4 seed LaFayette in Saturday’s Section III Class C semifinal.
And this followed Matt Donovan charging down the field and, off a pass from Connor Cannizzaro, putting home the tying goal with just 2.3 seconds left in regulation.
What had been a close, low-scoring affair started to break in the Lancers’ favor when, as time ran out in the third quarter, Cody Custer found the net, extending LaFayette’s lead to 7-5.
Sparked by that goal, the Lancers dominated the early part of the fourth quarter, winning face-offs, forcing Cazenovia into penalties and converting. When Nate Beresovoy found the net with 7:12 to play to make it 10-5, the Lakers were forced to use a time-out.
“We needed to push out with the ball and get our transition game going,” said head coach Jim Longo.
Cazenovia could also draw on recent history. During the 2011 regular season, it trailed these same Lancers by four goals late in the fourth quarter, only to come back and prevail in overtime when the weather-delayed game got moved to Colgate University, which sparked a state title run.
Here, the comeback commenced when Cannizzaro, off a won face-off, converted a mere 12 seconds after Beresovoy’s goal, whch made it 10-6. Then the Lakers drew a man-up and Alan Baldwin found the net with 5:17 to play, followed by Cook’s goal just 85 seconds later that made it 10-8.
What happened, with 1:50 left, was a clear case of good fortune. Baldwin, working behind the net, passed it out front – and saw the ball ricochet off a LaFayette defender’s stick past a stunned Lancers goalie, Elliott Lyons.
So now it was 10-9. LaFayette made a defensive stop and, in the final minute, tried to run out the clock. But a turnover with 10 seconds left gave the Lakers one more chance, if it hurried.
Despite having a time-out, Longo chose not to use it. Instead, he watched the Lakers charge down the field. Cannizzaro, covered by defenders, saw Donovan open, flipped it to him – and Donovan beat Lyons to pull the Lakers even.
Even though LaFayette won the overtime face-off, it turned the ball over, setting up another transition. This time, it was Donovan finding Cook on the doorstep, and Cook calmly put home the game-winner.
On Wednesday at 3 p.m., Cazenovia returns to Bragman Stadium to play the Class C final against no. 2 seed Homer, a team it beat twice during the regular season. The Trojans fought past Marcellus 7-5 in the other semifinal, without needing the sort of epic rally the Lakers required to get this far.