Chittenango Connor Cannizzaro, the Cazenovia boys lacrosse All-American, matched Westhill goal for goal all by himself as the Lakers fought from behind to earn a tough 10-6 win in a Section III Class C semifinal matchup of two state top 10-ranked teams Wednesday night at Chittenango High School.
The game’s final scoring sequence symbolized Cannizzaro’s efforts the entire game. With a 9-6 lead and 56 seconds remaining, the Lakers had the result firmly in hand, but wasn't completely satisfied.
After a Laker time-out, Cannizzaro began possession deep in his own territory, split two larger defenders and sprinted his way past midfield where he avoided desperate attempts by two more Westhill players to shove him out of bounds. Once free, Cannizaro dashed the rest of the way untouched and deked a helpless Jack Sweeney in goal for the easy score.
Though he contributed six of his team’s 10 goals, Cannizzaro’s efforts on ground balls and clears elsewhere on the field proved just as important in a contest that remained tight until the final minutes.
He broke a 5-5 tie midway through the third quarter by carrying the ball from behind his own goal clear to the other net. When his shot was blocked and gathered by Westhill’s Brendan Devendorf, Cannizzaro didn’t give up on the play, intercepting Devendorf’s outlet pass attempt right next to the goal and dumping it in for the Lakers’ first lead of the game.
“He's an All-American,” head coach Jim Longo said. “What else can you say?”
Jake Falge doubled the Laker advantage with 3:39 left on a rare goal, just his 11th of the year. Falge found himself in the right place at the right time as a quick shot blocked by Westhill goalie Jack Sweeney feel right into his stick’s cradle for an easy conversion.
Cazenovia would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way, but the Warriors made it a battle. Luke Longo scored his fourth goal of the night to bring the lead back to one with 23 seconds remaining in the third quarter.