When racing to a 6-1 start that included sevent shutouts, the Skaneateles boys soccer team knew that continuing such a strong defensive effort against improved opposition would be a serious challenge.
And that challenge got worse when, in a 1-0 defeat to state no. 4-ranked Westhill on Sept. 19, senior captain Christian Daley went to the sidelines with a hip injury, one that seemed to have a long-term effect on his teammates.
Without Daley, Skaneateles not only fell to Westhill, but also to Canisius 1-0 in the finals of the Finger Lakes Cup. And then it got more difficult in the week that followed against two other Class B contenders.
First, Cazenovia visited Hyatt Stadium last Tuesday night, and Skaneateles dropped a 2-1 decision. It wasn’t that surprising a result, for even though Cazenovia was not state-ranked, it still possessed a 7-1-1 record and was in the sectional finals a season ago before falling to Westhill.
And Cazenovia would grab the 1-0 lead here, too, before Tommy Reed answered with a header past Thomas Bragg that tied it, 1-1,
They stayed that way until the second half, when the visiting Lakers converted again and would preserve that lead with a defense that limited what Skaneateles tried to establish. Joe Spires had one of Cazenovia’s goals and assisted on the other, by Alex Pezzi.
Two nights later, Skaneateles found itself at Marcellus, who was also not state-ranked, but sported an 8-1 record and was out to avenge its lone defeat, a 2-0 decision at Hyatt Stadium on Sept. 16 before Daley got hurt.
Essentially, Marcellus turned the script around, beating the Lakers 4-1 in large part because it echoed what Skaneateles accomplished in the first meeting – namely, getting all the goals it needed in the opening minutes.
Just 5:47 into the game, David Bosak, from the point, delivered a long, hard shot that fit inside the top right corner of the net. Before Skaneateles could recover, Bosak attacked again, and from the right, passed it to Shawn Manke, who headed home a second goal.
As if that wasn’t enough, Manke, off a feed from Noah LaFever, charged up the middle and, when Skaneateles goalie Luke Peterson charged to meet him, lofted the ball over his head and into the unoccupied net – three goals, in a span of less than six minutes, putting Marcellus in front 3-0 before the game was 12 minutes old.
Somehow, Skaneateles settled down and, for much of the rest of the game, contained the Mustangs, helped by Peterson making some diving stops. It even caused brief concern by having Gabe Konieczny score on a free kick late in the second half, but Carter Austin, off a feed from Lukas Stasyuk, clinched the victory with a hard left-footed shot into the top of the net with 5:18 to play.
At last, the Lakers were able to break out of its doldrums in Saturday’s 3-0 shutout of Mexico at Hyatt Stadium. Were it not for 22 saves from Tigers goalie Brandon Dutcher, Skaneateles may have produced a lot more, but goals by Sam Gajdo, Tylar Moss and Jeff Palmer proved enough.
Now with an 8-5 record, Skaneateles plays all of its remaining regular-season games in the first week of October, with a visit from Chittenango Monday night followed by trips Wednesday to Jordan-Elbridge and Friday to Christian Brothers Academy.