Jun 16, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Everyone involved with the Skaneateles girls lacrosse team was quite excited about the prospect of reclaiming the state Class C title at the expense of the same team, Shoreham-Wading River, that had taken the title from the Lakers 12 months ago.
A year of hard work to get back to this point would culminate in last Saturday’s championship game at SUNY-Cortland, where Skaneateles would reach the same heights it experienced in 2005 and ’06.
But then the whistle blew to start the game — and it became obvious, quickly, that the dual dream of payback and championship glory would not come true.
Shoreham-Wading River, was downright devastating, putting on a display of great offensive skill in the game’s opening stages and never slowing down until it had handed the Lakers a 21-5 defeat and had earned its own back-to-back crowns.
“I’m hugely disappointed,” said head coach Bridget Marquardt. “We’re so much a better team than we showed today. We never got into our rhythm. Things just didn’t go our way.”
Quite unlike the 2007 final, when Skaneateles had an early lead and could not hold on to it in an 11-9 defeat, the Lakers never got a chance to enter the argument against its opponent from Long Island.
Off the opening draw, SWR’s Jen Devito went in and scored just 16 seconds into the game. Then the Wildcats won another draw, and Erica Devito converted. For good measure, SWR took another draw, attacked again, and scored again, Stephanie Anderson doing the honors.
So it was 3-0, and the game was not even 90 seconds old. Marquardt called a time-out to try and get her team off the collective mat.
“We got spooked (at the start),” said Marquardt. “I told them to pick up their heads, that this was a long game, that we had to fight and that we’d been there before.”
None of this talk worked, though, because the Wildcats were in prime playing condition. Even when the Lakers put together its first attack and tried to answer the early barrage, SWR goalie Michelle Verbeeck made some point-blank saves.
On the other end, the Wildcats continued to convert, building the margin to 9-0 before Maddy Morrissey finally put Skaneateles on the scoreboard 17:46 into the contest. That would be as close as the game would get.
Skaneateles trailed, 11-2, at halftime, and though it never stopped battling, the big damage had been rendered. Jenna Lotkowictz finished with two goals and two assists, while Lindsay Angelillo and Shannon Tierney also scored. Tierney added an assist. Each of the Devito sisters produced four goals to lead SWR’s championship effort.
All of this was a marked contrast from what had taken place the day before. Appearing to peak at just the right time, Skaneateles totally controlled its state Class C semifinal against Honoeye Falls-Lima (Section V), beating the Cougars 16-8.
Playing in its first-ever state final four, HF-L did not feel the initial jitters so many newcomers to this stage feel, playing Skaneateles to a 2-2 draw over the game’s first 10 minutes and causing some concern among the Laker faithful.
Over the next 12 minutes, though, Skaneateles struck the decisive blow, putting up six unanswered goals. And they came from all kinds of different sources as Lotkowictz, Tierney, Morrissey, Angelillo, Laura Trenti andKelsey Nangle took turns putting in goals.
“We got the draws and set the tone,” said Lotkowictz. “We didn’t want this game to be our last.”
The Cougars did not go away that easily, though, pulling back within 9-5 by the early part of the second half. Sufficiently alerted, Skaneateles went on another big run, putting in the next four goals to double the margin to 13-5 and put it out of reach.
Overall, Tierney led with four goals, adding an assist, while Lotkowictz put up the most points with three goals and three assists. Angelillo also found the net three times, with Nangle, Trenti and Morrissey each scoring twice. Emma Hueber and Bailey Saulsbury added assists.
Another key to these runs was the way the Lakers’ defense played. Amy Riehlman, Brittany LaVaute, Margaret Shanley and Brooke McNeilly got more aggressive and shut down HF-L for long periods of time and did a terrific job protecting goalie Heather Mullen, who had to make just five saves.
But as well as things went here, they turned around just that much against Shoreham-Wading River, who had required a second-half comeback just to beat Nanuet 14-8 in the other semifinal. The Wildcats would not require a rally on Saturday.
Thus, Skaneateles finished a memorable 2008 season with a record of 19-6. Tested early, and nearly caught by a deep and talented field of local rivals, the Lakers pulled clear of Westhill and CBA late in the regular season. Then it won memorable playoffs battles with Cazenovia and Marcellus to snag a sixth consecutive Section III Class C championship and made the state finals for the fourth year in a row.
Now, to keep those streaks going in 2009, the Lakers will have to do it without Lotkowictz, Nangle, Tierney, Riehlman, LaVaute, Shanley and Hueber. Much will depend on how Mullen, Angelillo and Morrissey step up and become the team’s new leaders — and on how much it took from the experience of falling in the state final again.
“We’ll move forward and use this as a learning experience — just like last year,” said Marquardt.