Growing up in the Skaneateles girls lacrosse program means, on a yearly basis, having expectations of earning a Section III championship and playing into June.
When, on Tuesday night at SUNY-Cortland, the Lakers sought its sixth consecutive sectional title, South Jefferson stood in the way, just as did in 2017 and 2014.
But on the same turf where Skaneateles has claimed four state championships, the magic of all of that past glory did little to save the Lakers as the Spartans, with superior depth, experience and fine all-around play, prevailed 12-5 and earned its first-ever sectional title.
South Jefferson entered this game as the state’s top-ranked team, having carried the memory of its 16-7 loss to the Lakers 12 months ago throughout this season. Now, it got to show Skaneateles just how much it had grown in its third consecutive playoff romp to go with earlier wins over Clinton (22-2) and Marcellus (10-3).
At first, neither side could get away. With each possession hard-fought, it took patience and poise to create good scoring chances.
But with more possession time, South Jefferson took charge with consecutive goals from Sydney Roderick, Mackenzie Alexander and Mia Buckingham, forcing the Lakers to use a timeout midway through the first half as it trailed 4-1.
That didn’t change the momentum, though. Five different Spartans got the first five goals, showing the difficulty Skaneateles faced defending them. And even when Abbey Logan scored for the second time, South Jefferson closed the half with a surge, Alexander and Hall adding goals, the last of them with 3.9 seconds left to make it 8-3 at the break.
That carried over into the second half with early goals by Savannah Fish and Mia Buckingham. By now, Alexander’s domination in the draw circle over whomever Skaneateles out to face her was apparent as the Lakers could not get the ball for any length of time and were forced to play more defense.
After Logan’s third goal cut the Skaneateles deficit to 10-4, South Jefferson got the ball back and began a long possession, burning up several minutes before Buckingham scored with 12:48 left.
Cruising from there (Logan did add a fourth goal late), the Spartans handed Skaneateles its first sectional playoff defeat of any kind since Christian Brothers Academy topped them 9-8 in the 2012 Class C final.
Yet this doesn’t cloud the Lakers’ future too much. Just four seniors were on this year’s roster, two of them (Logan and Christina Ciaccio) starters.
So in 2019 the likes of goalie Ryley Pas’cal, defenders Ioanna Christou, Grace Kush, Jessica Patalino and Olivia Dobrovosky, along with midfielders Gaby Welch, Maggie Newton and Olivia Navaroli and attacker Grace Dower, all could come back, hungry to put Skaneateles on top again.