The Cazenovia field hockey team earned its eighth consecutive Section III title last Wednesday night at New Hartford High School, sharing it with Holland Patent and advancing in penalty strokes to the state qualifier Saturday at Rome Free Academy Stadium, where it beat Class D champion Morrisville-Eaton 4-1.
Three days after a scoring outburst nearly derailed the Cazenovia field hockey team's latest championship run, it relied on the very same tactic to secure a return to the state Class C playoffs.
The Lakers, trailing Morrisville-Eaton at halftime of Saturday's Section III state qualifier at Rome Free Academy Stadium, erupted early in the second half and, in the process, did enough to earn a 4-1 victory over the Warriors.
This will bring Cazenovia back to Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium, where it won state championships in 2010 and '11, to face Section II champion Hoosick Falls next Saturday in the regional finals, with the winner of that game to come back to C-NS for the Nov. 16-17 state final four. Game time is 2 p.m.
At first, though, the concern was that the Lakers would not even make it past Morrisville-Eaton, an undefeated (18-0) side that, three days earlier, had beaten Weedsport 2-1 for the sectional Class D title on Jessica Welsh's goal in the last minute of regulation.
While the Warriors had plenty of momentum, the Lakers were still settling down after squandering a 3-0 lead to Holland Patent in the second half of its sectional final, settling for a 3-3 tie, a co-championship and advancing on penalty strokes.
To its credit, Cazenovia got off to a strong start in the first 15 minutes against M-E, as Colleen Stalder, Ashley Kent and Rachel McLaughlin all missed good chances to get on the board.
But it remained 0-0, and the Warriors started to find some traction in its attack midway through the half. Kimber Nourse turned back shots from Welsh and Lauren Kellum, but neither she, nor the Laker defenders, could keep Welsh from weaving through them and firing a shot into the cage to put M-E in front 1-0.