Whatever happened to the Westhill boys lacrosse team in the Section III Class C playoffs, it had already proved a memorable and historic season.
The Warriors set a school record with 14 wins, and when it fought off Chittenango 12-8 Tuesday night, it clinched the outright OHSL Liberty division title for the first time.
Westhill’s big late-season surge meant little to the Bears, who hung around in a 6-3 first half and picked up the tempo in the third quarter, closing within 10-8.
But as it had done so many times during a season-closing 10-game win streak, the Warriors played outstanding defense down the stretch, blanking the Bears in the fourth quarter as goalie Jack Sweeney stopped 13 of 21 shots overall.
On the offensive end, freshman Ryan Zimmerman buzzed the Bears for five goals, while Luke Longo and Richie Easterly each had two goals and two assists. Ryan Suddaby scored twice, adding one assist, while Jack Centore had a goal and two assists. Mark Purcell also managed two assists.
Any chance of Marcellus improving its playoff seed hinged on winning last Monday’s regular-season finale against visiting Cazenovia. And it played well, but star senior Connor Cannizzaro helped push his Laker side past Marcellus 13-11.
The two sides warily eyed each other through a 1-1 first quarter. Then the pace quickened the rest of the half, Cazenovia handling it a bit better as it seized a 7-5 lead.
All through the rest of the game, the Mustangs tailed the Lakers, watching Tom McNaney earn five assists to feed an attack where Kevin Hutchings and Mike McNaney both had three-goal hat tricks, with Morgan Reilly adding a pair of goals. Ross Filtch and Harrison Cox also found the net.
Yet Cazenovia stayed in front, largely due to Cannizzaro, the reigning Central New York Player of the Year, who zipped past Mustang defenders on his way to six goals and two assists, something that Jake Lilly could not overcome, even with 13 saves.