Westhill remains the boys soccer favorites among the Section III Class B ranks. Cazenovia remains in pursuit. So in some ways, little has changed since the Warriors edged the Lakers in last November's tense sectional final - including the outcome when the two sides get together.
In the first of two regular-season showdowns, Westhill defeated Cazenovia, 2-0, Thursday night at the Sean Googin Sports Complex, a game where both sides could admit to finding a degree of success.
By keeping things close most of the night after a quick Warrior goal, the Lakers found that it still could, at its best, make the reigning champions worry. But Westhill still proved elusive, helped in no doubt by the way the game started.
Applying plenty of early pressure, the Warriors seized a 1-0 lead just 2:32 into the game. Jake Etoll passed from the right side to the point, and Tom Kinsella crushed a 25-yard shot that eluded a leaping Garrett Clabeaux and crashed into the top of the net.
Gradually, Cazenovia's defense settled down. The back line, anchored by Evan Cornell, Will Fellows and Tom McNerney, refused to let Westhill's big, quick forwards get around them, and it remained 1-0 the rest of the half.
The Lakers would make some runs, too, but the aggression of Warriors goalkeeper Chris Burrows paid off as he headed off first-half charges from Henry Mann and Kevin Porter before they could poke the ball past him.
Deep into the second half, it remained a one-goal margin. Cazenovia's best chance to tie it came on a free kick late in regulation that Porter lofted into the box, with Ryan Henderson perfectly positioned to head it home - only to have, again, Burrows grab it at the last moment.
Not sitting on its slim lead, Westhill continued to make runs, all the way to the end, and with 2:59 left Matt Torak, from the right side, drilled a low shot past Clabeaux for the clincher.
The two sides have another meeting on Oct. 15 at Westhill during the last week of the regular season.