May 30, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
By most objective standards – even the other side seemed to agree – the Skaneateles girls lacrosse team outplayed Christian Brothers Academy for large parts of Tuesday night’s Section III Class C final at West Genesee High School.
Yet when the final horn sounded, it was the Lakers forced to accept a painful 9-8 defeat as its quest to dethrone the defending state champions fell literally inches short.
Despite getting the tempo it wanted, despite having a two-goal lead in the second half, and despite an ocean of opportunities to get even in the final minutes, Skaneateles could not send the tense contest to overtime, the outcome in doubt until Emma Ford was stripped of the ball on a charge to net as time ran out.
“We certainly had our opportunities,” said Lakers head coach Bridget Marquardt.
Just in the last two minutes, Shelby McNeilly, an all-around force throughout the game, had a shot stopped by CBA goalie Courtney Henderson. Also, Nicole Beatson’s possible tying shot flew wide, and most frustrating, a point-blank look from Carly Davis with 35 seconds left clanged off the right post.
So it ended just like it did in 2011, the Lakers denied a sectional title by CBA. But it was a far cry from the 17-6 drubbing the Brothers gave Skaneateles in the regular-season finale just 13 days earlier.
“That last game (with CBA) was not an indicator of our team,” said Marquardt. “We are so much better (than how we played there).”
After a 75-minute delay waiting out afternoon thunderstorms, the rain stopped just as the game got underway. Both sides were uneven on the offensive end in the early going, managing just one goal apiece in the first 10:56 as McNeilly put the Lakers on the board.
Late in the first half, though, it appeared that CBA was getting away again, as it moved in front 6-2. But the Lakers got a much-needed spark when Ford converted 44 seconds before halftime, and the margin was 6-3 at the break.
Early in the second half, Beatson and McNeilly helped the Lakers dominate the draws (something it wasn’t doing against CBA’s Marisa Romeo in the first half), and it allowed Skaneateles to dictate the game’s tempo, patiently working the ball around until the right shot was possible.
It was freshman Hannah Powers scoring 40 seconds into the half that sparked the Lakers’ surge. McNeilly converted to make it 6-5 and Powers returned to score a second time to tie it, 6-6, less than five minute into the half, forcing the Brothers to use a time-out.
That didn’t slow down the Lakers, though. Another ninth-grader, Elizabeth Lane, converted to put the Lakers ahead for the first time in the game, and Casey VanSlyke’s goal with 12:49 left expanded the margin to 8-6.
To that point, Skaneateles defenders Alex Welch, Sharon Adams and Rachel Hurley had stood tall in the face of CBA’s pressure, and goalie Shannon Byrne had made brilliant stops on her way to nine saves on the night.
“Shannon played awesome, and that gave our offense some confidence, too,” said Marquardt.
Yet just 24 seconds after VanSlyke scored, the Brothers’ Caroline Webster answered to quickly cut the margin to 8-7. Revitalized, CBA turned to Romeo, who tied it with 11:08 left and charged through the defense to put in the go-ahead goal with 5:13 left.
CBA’s defense, playing without Webster in the latter stages due to two yellow cards, still managed to blank the Lakers over the last 12:49, withstanding all of those late Laker chances to pull even.
Skaneateles has a lot to look forward, to, though. Just five players, including Byrne, McNeilly, Davis, Adams and Addy Tauro, graduate. Everyone else could be on the field in 2013 making another title pursuit.
“We’ll be back next year,” said Marquardt.