May 26, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Mostly thanks to the dazzling offensive contributions of Ryan Cook, the “Redemption Tour” that the Cazenovia boys lacrosse team set out on at the start of the Section III Class C playoffs has reached a successful conclusion.
The Lakers defeated top seed LaFayette 15-9 in Saturday’s Class C final at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium to claim its second sectional championship in three years on the same field where it fell to Homer in last spring’s title game.
And Cook, by himself, outscored the Lancers with a single-game career-best total of 10 goals, constantly eluding LaFayette’s defenders and finding the net any time his team appeared to be in trouble.
All through this season, Cazenovia’s opponents have faced a simple dilemma – namely, trying to contain the Lakers’ vaunted offensive senior tandem of Cook and Connor Cannizzaro.
Whatever plan an opponent on the sectional playoff “Redemption Tour” has chosen has backfired. In the quarterfinals against Homer (whom Cazenovia lost to in last year’s sectional final), the Trojans focused on Cannizzaro, and Cook responded with seven goals and three assists in a 17-5 win.
Then, in the semifinals against Westhill (who beat the Lakers 9-8 in overtime early in May), the Warriors managed to keep Cook quiet – but Cannizzaro still burned them for six goals and the Lakers prevailed 10-6.
Now, against LaFayette, the only other team to beat Cazenovia this season (12-11 on April 26), the Lakers quickly found out that the Lancers were intent on limiting Cannizzaro’s touches, especially after he flicked in a one-handed goal 1:32 into the game to open the scoring.
Cook broke a 1-1 tie and struck for the first time when he deflected in Henry Mann’s pass late in the opening period, and he got the second goal on a nifty shot fake two minutes later.
“We noticed that they were going to press the corners, and Ryan can take advantage of that,” said Cazenovia head coach Jim Longo.
More valuable was what Cook did in the second quarter after LaFayette cut Cazenovia’s lead to 4-3. Less than a minute later, on a charge to the net, Cook was pushed onto his back, but still managed to flick a shot past Lancers goalie Elliott Lyons into the net.
“When he gets going, there’s no one that can stop him,” said Cannizzaro.
Largely due to Cook’s four first-half tallies, the Lakers were up 6-4 at halftime, and the second half amounted to a long chase by LaFayette where it would not let Cazenovia out of range, but not catch up, either, and again Cook was responsible.
Twice, when LaFayette pulled within two goals (at 7-5 and 8-6), Cook offered up goals, giving him six for the night and the Lakers a 9-6 margin going to the fourth quarter.
The same thing happened in the final period. After Henry Sullivan stretched the lead to 10-6, the Lancers, on goals from Nate Beresovoy and Eric Liddy, cut the margin in half, to 10-8, with nearly eight minutes left, more than enough time to make it all the way back.
But Cook slammed that door shut with two goals 26 seconds apart that put his total at eight and extended the lead back to 10-8, and two more would follow as Cannizzaro also tacked on his third goal, to go with a pair of assists.
It was quite a weekend for Cannizzaro. Just as he was polishing off another sectional title, his older brother, Sean, was playing for Denver in the NCAA lacrosse national semifinals against Syracuse in Philadelphia, and his sister, Kara, was getting ready to lead the North Carolina women into Sunday night’s national title game against Maryland.
Once that was done, the Lakers could focus on trying to win a second state championship in three years, starting Wednesday with a regional game at Potsdam High School against the Section X champions. The winner there plays the Section IV champion in the regional finals next Saturday at Union-Endicott.