Now the Cazenovia boys lacrosse team is one victory away from adding a second state Class C championship to the one it earned in 2011.
The Lakers moved to the brink of the summit Wednesday night at St. John Fisher College, near Rochester, where it fought off a comeback from Section V champion Penn Yan and prevailed 8-7 in the state semifinals.
The combination of Ryan Cook's four goals with a tenacious, hard-hitting defense that played its best in the closing minutes helped the Lakers eliminate the Mustangs and earn a trip back to St. John Fisher for Saturday's state title game at 1:30 against Bronxville, who knocked off defending state champion Shoreham-Wading River 14-13 in overtime in the other state semifinal.
"Our defense played a great game the whole way through," said Cazenovia head coach Jim Longo.
It only figured that the Lakers' defense featured in the closing sequence. Down 8-4, Penn Yan had rallied to pull within one, and had the ball in the final minute with a chance to tie it.
Twice, pressure from Laker defenders forced the Mustangs to call time-outs. Finally, Connor Cannizzaro moved to the back line and forced Bradley Voigt into one more costly turnover, and Cazenovia ran out the clock.
Cazenovia was well aware that Penn Yan, in this same round a year ago, ended Homer's state title bid. But it was also playing on the same St. John Fisher turf where it won the 2011 state semifinal over Silver Creek en route to its first-ever state title.
Both sides endured turnovers and wide shots in a nervous start. And it was a turnover, deep in Laker territory, that led to the first goal, scored by Penn Yan's Ryan Maciejewski at the 5:45 mark.
The Mustangs got the slower tempo it wanted and, on defense, made its strategy clear as it double and triple-teamed Cannizzaro every time he got near the net.