May 28, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Through its depth, and through its toughness on both ends of the field, the Skaneateles girls lacrosse team extended a mark unprecedented in the Section III ranks.
The Lakers turned back main rival Marcellus 12-7 in Tuesday’s Class C final at the Carrier Dome and, by doing, so, extended its own record with a 12th sectional championship, but its first outright title since 2008.
“We’ve been pretty close,” said head coach Bridget Marquardt. “So to get it here (in the Carrier Dome) is pretty spectacular.”
Senior defender Alex Welch, who saw her team lost to CBA in each of the last two sectional finals, agreed with her coach’s senitment.
“It means so much,” said Welch. “We’ve been working toward this for a long time.”
The usual balance the Lakers enjoyed on the offensive end was complemented by a defense that, after some early struggles, clamped down in a big way during the second half to make sure that the Mustangs never caught up.
Skaneateles arrived at the Dome hungry to atone for those sectional finals defeats of recent years and confident thanks to two regular-season wins over Marcellus. Meanwhile, the Mustangs, who had never won a sectional championship, sought to reverse all of the frustrations the Lakers had thrust upon them in seasons past and present.
In the opening stages, both sides had reasons to fell good. Alana Navaroli won the first two draws, and it led to quick goals from Casey VanSlyke and Emma Ford, but Allie Burrows found the net nine seconds after Ford’s tally to get Marcellus on the board, and Grace Hunt’s goal tied it, 2-2.
Just to spice things up further, Maura Gosson drew a yellow card, but the Mustangs got the ball back because Navaroli was caught with a pocket in her stick deeper than allowed.
With the intensity ratcheted up, eighth-grader Kyla Sears got the Skaneateles crowd going when she chased Marcellus goalie Renee Poullott near her net, stripped the ball away and scored to put her side back in front 3-2. But Poullott made a point-blank stop seconds later, and Molly McGuane’s free-position goal tied it again, 3-3, near the mid-point of the first half.
Skaneateles had most of the chances in the half, taking 17 shots to the Mustangs’ seven. But Poullott, with some tough saves and aggressive moves to clear the ball out of play, kept her team close through most of the half, aided by a stingy Marcellus defense vastly improved from the unit torched by the Lakers in that 16-8 loss earlier in the month.
Not until Hannah Powers and Nicole Beatson scored 12 seconds apart late in the half did the Lakers restore that early two-goal margin, but Grace Nolan had a prompt answer in the final minute, and only a shot by Burrows off the pipe kept Marcellus from tying it as Skaneateles clung to a 6-5 lead at the break.
Navaroli, angry because of the earlier stick incicent, set out to give her team permanent control. “It lit a fire under us,” she said.
Winning the opening draw of the second half, Navaroli needed just 17 seconds to score and double the Lakers’ lead to two, 7-5. Then she added another goal five minutes later, and won the ensuing draw, leading to Sears’ second goal and a 9-5 margin.
“Alana certainly stepped up tonight,” said Marquardt.
Just as important was the work of the Lakers’ defense. Welch, Rachel Hurley, Catie Woodruff, Tate Green and Elizabeth Lane clamped down throughout the second half, and goalie Mallorie Olin made several point-blank stops after some early struggles. Welch said her team was more aggressive in meeting the Mustangs’ slides, which led to stops.
This allowed Skaneateles to be more patient on the attack, as Navaroli tacked on a third goal. Molly Wood and Nicole Beatson also converted in the second half as the Lakers secured yet another championship.
On Saturday at 5 p.m., Skaneateles will face Massena (Section X) in the Class C regional final at West Genesee High School, needing one more win to advance to next weekend’s state final four at SUNY-Cortland.
“It’s so exciting,” said Navaroli. “We hope we can keep moving forward.”