May 18, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Every time this spring that the Westhill boys lacrosse team stared at a crisis point, it stared right back – and made the opponent blink.
That happened again in Saturday’s Section III Class C quarterfinal, where the no. 2 seed Warriors trailed no. 7 seed Skaneateles for long portions of the game, but finished strong and earned a 13-10 victory over the Lakers.
This was, above everything else, a game where timing mattered, never more so than in the waning moments of the third quarter.
At that point, Skaneateles led 9-8 on a goal by Owen Kuhns, and it had won the ensuing face-off, giving the Lakers a chance to double its margin and put the Warriors in further trouble.
But the Warriors forced a turnover and frantically drove down the field in the waning seconds. Off a scramble in front of the Lakers’ net, Luke Longo scooped up the ball and sent it past Skaneateles goalie Max Smith with just 0.7 seconds on the clock.
That goal did more than tie the game 9-9. It gave Westhill all the momentum going into the final period, and it never gave that momentum back.
Longo scored again 1:35 into the fourth quarter, and the Warriors, up 10-9, got a further boost when the frustrated Lakers started committing penalties in its own end.
With man-up situations, Ryan Suddaby pounced. Already with four goals on the afternoon, Suddaby found the net a fifth time with 8:50 left to make it 11-9.
Though Kuhns cut the margin to one two minutes later, another Skaneateles penalty led to another Suddaby goal with 5:47 to play, and he iced it by scoring for the seventh time with 3:11 left.
It all was a far cry from how the game started. Out to avenge a 6-2 defeat to Westhill nine days earlier, Skaneateles, with far more experience in post-season situations, grabbed a quick 2-0 edge on goals by Tyler Strods and Sam Duggan.
That commenced a wild, back-and-forth opening period, where every time the Warriors produced something (like goals from Suddaby 28 seconds apart), the Lakers would respond, as Ryan Higman and Alex Brownlee converted in a six-second span.
After all that, the Warriors trailed, 6-4, going to the second quarter, but it settled down on the defensive end during that period. Pete Valenti, Franco Tangredi and Brandon Devendorf started to disrupt the Lakers’ offensive patterns, and Jack Sweeney produced seven of his 13 saves.
Meanwhile, goals by Ryan Zimmerman and Mark Purcell tied it, 6-6, and Suddaby’s tally 1:17 before halftime gave Westhill its first lead of the day, 7-6, where it stood at the break.
But after Suddaby hit for the fourth time early in the third quarter, Westhill went cold, and Skaneateles took full advantage with goals from Higman and Strods to tie it 8-8, setting up the critical sequence at the end of that period.
All game long, Suddaby and his teammates took crisp passes from the likes of Richie Easterly, who finished with five assists. Jack Centore contributed a goal and three assists, while Zimmerman picked up two assists.
In what promises to be a hard-fought Class C semifinal, Westhill takes on no. 3 seed Cazenovia next Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Chittenango High School. The Lakers, who routed Homer 16-4 in its quarterfinal game, is looking to avenge an 8-7 overtime defeat to the Warriors on May 3, with the winner here to face LaFayette or CBA in next Saturday’s sectional title game.