Aug 31, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Just on the most technical of terms, the Cazenovia field hockey team’s 2014 season began on Labor Day weekend.
In truth, though, the work had started more than nine months ago, on the old (now removed) Astroturf at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium, where the Lakers’ dreams of a third state Class C championship in four years got dashed in a double-overtime defeat to Pierson/Bridgehampton.
Avoiding much roster turnover, the Lakers and head coach Lorraine Scheftic saw just five seniors – Colleen Stalder, Maureen Milmoe, Holly Gamlen, Hannah Light-Olson and Hannah Dain – graduate.
Everyone else, ranging from forwards Rachel McLaughlin, Sarah Willard and Gabby Yates, to midfielders Maria Stalder,Sarah Liddell and Josie Chiarello, to defenders Meredith Shephard and Maddy Langey and goalie Kimber Nourse, are back, looking to extend a Section III championship streak to nine straight years and, of course, get back to the state final four, staged this year at Maine-Endwell High School near Binghamton.
And it could not have started better.
As part of a tournament during Labor Day weekend, Cazenovia got to face both of last year’s sectional Class A finalists, Cicero-North Syracuse and the host team, Fayetteville-Manlius – and won each of the games by equal 3-0 margins.
It all began Friday afternoon, against C-NS, with a first half that was, by the Lakers’ own standards, uneven. Cazenovia controlled the early stages, but its shot attempts, from McLaughlin and Yates, got turned back.
Put to the test late in the first half when the Northstars earned four penalty corners, the Lakers’ defense turned them back, keeping it 0-0, which didn’t last long once the second half got underway.
Six minutes into the half, Yates, new to the starting lineup, got open again and, off a feed from Maria Stalder, converted the first goal of the season. Just three minutes later, it was 2-0 thanks to McLaughlin, who fired a hard shot past C-NS goalie Julia Lantry after timely passes from Chiarello and Willard.
Even though C-NS got more corner attempts late in the game, Nourse turned them back, and in the final minute Stalder tacked one more goal to run the margin to three.
Less than 24 hours later, Cazenovia was facing F-M, who last year won its first sectional Class A title since 1989, only to see 13 seniors graduate. The Hornets had lost, 2-0, to Section IV power Whitney Point in its season opener.
Determined not to make things as stressful, the Lakers’ defense, with some new faces to help the veterans like Shephard, Nourse and Langey, proved so tough that the Hornets did not earn a single penalty corner the entire afternoon.
Again, the Lakers were patient on the attack, but this time it converted in the first half, McLaughlin beating F-M goalie Caroline Baril one-on-one less than two minute before the break.
But that 1-0 lead did not satisfy Cazenovia one bit. Converting a penalty corner early in the second half, Liddell sent a hard shot home for her first goal of the season. And the pressure continued until McLaughlin scored with 23 seconds left, completing the weekend sweep.
Returning to the Onondaga High School League it has dominated for much of the last decade, Cazenovia visits Homer Wednesday night and has its home opener at Burton Street Elementary School against Cortland on Friday afternoon.