A place back atop the state rankings meant nothing to the Westhill boys lacrosse team. On the other hand, gaining that long-awaited first Section III championship, and avenging its only loss of the season, meant plenty.
It was in that spirit that the Warriors went to Liverpool High School Stadium last Thursday night and clashed with Christian Brothers Academy in the sectional Class D final, getting to the brink of deliverance – only to get denied in an excruciating 10-9 double-overtime defeat to the Brothers.
No one else other than CBA beat Westhill this season, and the Warriors were out to avenge its April 27 defeat at home to those Brothers. It got off to just the right start as early goals from Jack Grooms, Jack Miller and Casey Rogers produced a 3-1 first-quarter lead.
By the middle of the second quarter, though, the Brothers had sprinted in front, 5-3, and though Miller’s second goal cut the margin to one by halftime, CBA threatened to get away early in the third quarter, building a 7-4 advantage.
But Westhill quashed any notion of a rout as it took advantage of a pair of CBA penalties to pull back within one before Grooms, with his third goal of the night, tied it, 7-7. Now the Warriors were charging, and only the great work of Brothers goalie Matt Vavonese kept the game level going to the fourth quarter.
Twice in those final 12 minutes, CBA went in front, with goals by Ben McCreary and Mike Matheson. Both times, Westhill answered, first with Grooms, and then, with a minute to play, by seeing Luke McAnaney put a shot past Vavonese to forge a 9-9 tie, right after Tim O’Connor’s point-blank stop kept the Warriors alive.
Regulation ended that way, so it went to overtime. Rogers claimed the face-off, and Westhill called time-out. For the next four minutes, it buzzed around the CBA net, looking for the championship-winning goal, but again were denied, Vavonese with another big save late in the extra period.
A second OT beckoned, and again Rogers got the face-off. Here, though, the Brothers gained possession and worked the ball to McCreary on the right side. When challenged, McCreary flung a low, hard shot that eluded O’Connor and found the net, giving CBA its first sectional title in 10 years – and breaking Westhill’s collective hearts.
The Warriors got this far by rolling through last Tuesday’s semifinals at East Syracuse Minoa, where Westhill ended Cazenovia’s four-year sectional championship run with a 14-8 victory and CBA rolled past no. 4 seed LaFayette 20-9.
Westhill and Cazenovia had played twice in the regular season. The Warriors won a close 8-5 decision on April 1, and then won big over the Lakers 17-5 on May 9. Exactly two weeks after that second encounter, they met again, with Cazenovia, the no. 6 seed, owning a bit more confidence following a May 20 sectional quarterfinal win at no. 3 seed Skaneateles.
But Westhill did not let those earlier results, nor the Lakers’ recent surge, bother them. Instead, it blanked Cazenovia for most of the first half, not surrendering a goal until Alex Nowak scored with 27 seconds left in the second quarter.
By then, the Warriors already had a 5-0 advantage, and even after Cazenovia tried to climb back in the third quarter, Westhill stretched out the margin to 9-3, even getting a goal a man down early in the fourth quarter on the way to a 14-3 margin before easing up late.
Rogers paced Westhill with four goals. Miller, McAnaney and Grooms each scored twice, McAnaney adding an assist as Charlie Bolesh and Braeden Elmer each got one goal and one assist. Owen Matukas and Owen Rodgers had the other goals and O’Connor was stellar in the net, making 10 saves.
Westhill’s neighbors from Marcellus, who had won at Carthage in its opening-round Class C sectional game, got a dose of reality in the semifinals from top seed and state no. 2-ranked Jamesville-DeWitt, who beat the Mustangs 21-6 in the sectional semifinal at Liverpool.
Throughout the first half, the Red Rams’ constant pressure led to chances and plenty of goals. Marcellus trailed, 13-3, by halftime, and saw it get further away as Griffin Cook, with three goals and five assists, and Ryan Archer, with three goals and two assists, led the charge.
Dan Cusick still made 10 saves for Marcellus, who only had one player, Gabe VanOrder, score twice. Sam Rice, Matt Chrysler, Rob Seeley and Liam Tierney got one goal apiece for the Mustangs, who finished at 5-13.
Jan 22, 2018
Jan 22, 2018
Jan 22, 2018
Jan 22, 2018