Skaneateles Armed with a 7-2 record, the Cazenovia girls soccer team headed into its most difficult 48-hour stretch of the regular season, playing back-to-back road games against both of the favorites in the Section III Class B ranks.
First, Cazenovia visited Hyatt Stadium to face Skaneateles on Thursday afternoon, and in this latest clash of Laker teams, the visitors, applying lessons learned in an earlier contest, put together a superb effort and won by a score of 2-1.
It all started on the defensive side. When Skaneateles beat Cazenovia by that same 2-1 margin at the Sean Googin Sports Complex in the Aug. 30 season opener, it kept finding gaps with its quick, aggressive attack, eventually leading to a pair of late, decisive goals.
That didn’t happen in the rematch. Clare Costello, Lauren Mapstone, Sam Gates, Meg Romagnoli, Lizzy Bigsby and Kirsten Underwood took turns closing up those gaps, and any time the ball got near them, they passed to a teammate.
Assistant coach Kara Connellan said it amounted to “clearing it to feet” – in other words, precise passes to make sound clearances, rather than just hitting the ball to any clear space, because a Skaneateles player might get there first.
They had reason to be so protective. An injury to goalkeeper Maggie Johnson had pushed eighth-grader Jamie Joseph into the starting role. Joseph was ready for it, making six saves, but thanks to the defense, she didn’t have to handle too many shots.
So it remained 0-0 until early in the second half. Then, off a Skaneateles turnover, Audrey Burbidge grabbed possession and, 25 yards from the net, crushed a shot into the top left corner of the net that Skaneateles goalie Sophie Kush had no chance to stop.
Just three minutes later, Burbidge, sprung by a perfect pass from Hannah Rousell, broke free up the middle with the ball, and beat Kush low for her second goal. Suddenly, it was 2-0, and Skaneateles was in catch-up mode.
For the most part, Cazenovia’s defense handled the increased Skaneateles pressure quite well, nearly pitching a shutout before Molly Wood’s goal with 4:03 left made things nervous. Still, Cazenovia held on for what was, clearly, its biggest win of the season so far.
With no time to rest or celebrate, the Lakers went back to the road Saturday night for a visit to defending Class B champion Marcellus, who held the top spot in the initial state Class B rankings even though it lost to Skaneateles 1-0 on Sept. 24.