Instead of late-game tension, the Cazenovia boys lacrosse team got to enjoy the homestretch a bit more on a hot, humid Saturday as it edged closer to a possible state Class C championship.
Having rallied from behind in the fourth quarter to claim one regional game against Salmon River earlier in the week, the Lakers now turned its attention to Saturday’s regional final at Union-Endicott High Schoool against Section IV champion Johnson City.
Here, it was close for a while, but the Lakers never lost control – and led by Connor Cannizzaro’s latest star turn, Cazenovia blasted past the Wildcats 19-8.
Johnson City tried every conceivable defensive tactic against Cannizzaro, and none of them worked. The senior All-American piled up eight goals and three assists and keyed a second-half getaway.
The pace was quick from the start, just as Cazenovia wanted. They traded goals until Cannizzaro’s initial tally made it 3-2 in Cazenovia’s favor.
Cannizzaro earned a hat trick by the end of the first quarter, and the Lakers doubled its offensive output from the entire first half against Salmon River to seize a 6-3 lead.
During the second period, the Wildcats closed the gap to 6-4, and the Lakers went quiet for a bit before Keaton Ackermann and Henry Mann earned goals that doubled the margin to 8-4 as they went to halftime.
An extended halftime break appeared to rattle the Lakers a bit, because Johnson City went out and scored seven seconds into the third quarter to make it 8-5.
But from there, Cannizzaro took over, netting three of his team’s next four goals, including one where Wildcat defender Nate Korutz all but threw his stick at Cannizzaro, but he still sneaked by and deposited another goal.
The Lakers made it 15-8 going to the fourth quarter, and blanked Johnson City from there, Cannizzaro adding one more touch with a behind-the-back goal as part of his 11-point effort.
And the Wildcats couldn’t concentrate on Cannizzaro, since Ryan Cook, Henry Mann and Kyle Brown were all getting three-goal hat tricks of their own. Cole Willard tacked on a goal as P.J. Brown picked up an assist.
In Wednesday’s state semifinal at 5:30 at St. John Fisher College near Rochester, Cazenovia faces Section V champion Penn Yan. The winner returns to Pittsford on Saturday to play for the state championship against Shoreham-Wading River or Bronxville.