Cicero Now it's 20 up and 20 down for the Cazenovia boys lacrosse team - but win number 21 might prove the most challenging of all.
When the Lakers routed Section IV champion Chenango Forks 16-4 in Wednesday night's opening round of the state Class C playoffs at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium, it sets up a classic regional final on Saturday afternoon.
That game will pit the undefeated, state no. 1-ranked Lakers against undefeated (17-0), no. 2-ranked Salmon River Saturday at SUNY-Potsdam. The Shamrocks nearly prevailed in both 2011 and 2013 state tournament clashes before Cazenovia survived and went on to the state title.
First, though, there was the small matter of getting past Chenango Forks, who had a past history with Cazenovia - in football, though this was their most important lacrosse encounter.
Right away, the Lakers established control - as in 10 seconds, the amount of time it took Henry Mann to win the opening face-off, pass it Cole Willard, who then found an open Alex Hunt for the easy goal.
Cazenovia, energized by that start, roared out to a 5-0 lead before Forks got on the board, only to see Mann score just 3.4 seconds before the period ended to give the Lakers a 6-1 edge going to the second quarter.
Here, though, Cazenovia tripped up a bit, suddenly turning the ball over and looking sloppy in the attack. That allowed the Blue Devils to creep within 7-3 by the time they reached the half.
Given a sharp talk at halftime, the Lakers put the game away in the third quarter with seven unanswered goals to create a 14-3 edge, and everything clicked into place.
Mann once again ruled on face-offs, claiming 15 of 22. And as the attack started to pepper the overmatched Forks defense, the Lakers' back line settled down, too.