Chittenango It mainly took the work of the reigning Central New York Player of the Year to put an end to the Westhill boys lacrosse team’s dreams of a first-ever Section III Class C championship.
Connor Cannizzaro, the Cazenovia All-American, matched the Warriors all by himself as the Lakers fought from behind to earn a tough 10-6 win in last Wednesday night’s Class C semifinal at Chittenango High School.
“Right now it hurts, it's tough,” Westhill coach Mike Leuze said. “The kids played hard and it's unfortunate. That's a good team and you give them opportunities they're going to take advantage of it.”
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 it wasn't completely satisfied.
After a Laker time-out, Cannizzaro began possession deep in his own territory, split two larger defenders, and then 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 between two teams ranked in the state top 10 (Westhill at no. 6, Cazenovia at no. 9) 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.