May 29, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
None of the current Baldwinsville girls lacrosse players were even in grade school in 2000, the last time it won a Section III Class A championship.
So it was an entirely new and special feeling for the Bees Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome when the horn sounded and the Bees, casting off 13 years of disappointments and near-misses, finished off Cicero-North Syracuse 13-10 in the Class A title game.
As the B’ville players celebrated on the field, piled on top of goalie Nicole Burrows, a large contingent of fans in red, including many former B’ville players, joined in the celebration. It was something that head coach Doug Rowe and his players noticed.
“As much as it meant to this year’s team, it also means so much to our alumni,” said Rowe. “They take real pride in it.
Senior captain Sarah Klaben agreed. “It is so great to give something back to our school and our fans,” she said. “We knew from the start of our season that this was our year.”
Fellow senior Amari Pollard, who scored three goals in the title game, said this win was atonement for losing in the sectional semifinals to Liverpool a season ago.
“We really pulled together as a team,” she said. “We redeemed ourselves.”
Someone was going to break a long sectional championship drought. B’ville had last won it all in 2000, the year of their lone state championship, while C-NS, who had stunned six-time defending champion West Genesee in the semifinals, had gone without a title since 1997.
A split of two regular-season meetings only added to the uncertainty, as did the question of how these two teams would handle the unfamiliar pressure of a title game on the large stage of the Dome.
Both sides fought early-game nerves before Tiffany Ryan got the first goal at the 4:18 mark, only to have Abbey Foote answer 27 seconds later, followed by goals from Amari Pollard, Sarah Klaben and Taylor Gebhardt that pushed the Bees in front 4-1 and made the Northstars use a time-out.
B’ville did not allow a goal for nearly 10 minutes before Meghan Duffy broke the drought with two goals 39 seconds apart. That, plus Hanna Haven’s tally, pulled the Northstars even 4-4 late in the half.
Then it was the Bees’ turn to surge, as Gebhardt (twice) and Pollard converted three goals between them in a 48-second span, and though Sarah Bowles also converted for C-NS, the Bees took a 7-5 lead to the break.
They continued to go back and forth early in the second half, C-NS twice cutting the margin to one, and B’ville twice answering with goals from Kennedy Frink and Marjorie Dehm.
Now up 9-7, the Bees found itself in the same situation as in its Class A semifinal win over Liverpool, facing the same strategic choice of holding the ball longer, or attacking and trying to add to its lead.
This time around, B’ville chose the latter course, doubling its margin to four as Gebhardt scored for the fourth time and Marjorie Dehm got her second goal before Klaben struck with 15:13 to play and stretched the Bees’ advantage to 12-7.
And the Bees’ defense, anchored by Jaclyn Hingre, Amanda Klein and Samantha Ward, made sure that lead stuck, blanking C-NS for nearly 15 minutes as the margin grew to 13-7 thanks to Pollard’s third goal with 8:14 left.
Rowe said that his team’s patience and success on the offensive end gave confidence to the defense, allowing them to be more aggressive and effective. And he had particular praise for Pollard, saying that she never comes off the field and is strong on both ends.
By the time Bowles broke the Northstars’ drought with 6:19 left, B’ville could afford to slow it down – which it did, eating away at the remaining clock and absorbing late goals from Ryan and Haven until it could celebrate a long-awaited championship.
On Saturday, the Bees go to West Genesee High School to play the Section IV champion in the Class A regional final, eyeing a return to the state final four at SUNY-Cortland that also would be 13 years in the making.
“They want to get back to the state championship,” said Rowe. “They want to see what that is all about.”