Skaneateles With all of the questions off the field addressed and an exciting young coach at the helm, the Marcellus boys lacrosse team could turn its attention back to the game itself.
And when it did during last Saturday’s Finger Lakes Shoot-Out at Skaneateles High School’s Hyatt Stadium, the result was quite satisfying, as the Mustangs, trailing Auburn in the fourth quarter, roared back to snatch an 11-10 victory over the Maroons.
A season ago, Leo McInerney was coaching at Marcellus, leading his side to the Section III Class C semifinals before falling to LaFayette. But a dispute over use of the Mustangs’ turf field led to a decision by the Marcellus School Board on Oct. 21 not to retain McNaney, despite protests from both parents and players.
Two weeks later, on Nov. 5, 26-year-old Marc Cizenski took over as head coach. A West Genesee graduate who played under Mike Messere and captained two NCAA Division II championship teams at Le Moyne College in 2008 and 2009, Cizenski was the junior varsity coach prior to his promotion.
Once the controversy died down, Cizenski and his staff went to work. It helped that, though some top players like Tom McNaney, Mrogan Reilly, Nick Nye and Jason Decker had graduated, a strong returning cast was in place, too.
Originally, the Finger Lakes Shoot-Out was a two-day tournament, but weather conditions pushed back the openers (Marcellus-Auburn and Baldiwnsville-Skaneateles) from Friday to Saturday, with the other games set aside for a later date this spring.
Marcellus blanked Auburn in the first quarter, but only could stretch its lead to 2-0. The two sides traded goals as the Mustangs were up 5-3 at the break, but saw its defense burned as Auburn made a 6-2 run in the third quarter to roar out in front.
But the Mustangs’ defense regrouped, anchored in the middle by senior goalie Jake Lilly, whose 13 saves including one on his helmet.