PHOENIX – Sure, the names on the roster change. The style of play might change. Even the coaching staff changes.
But winning big games and taking home championships has turned into an annual routine for the Skaneateles boys soccer team, who once again finds itself atop the heap in the Section III Class B ranks.
Rising from a no. 5 seed this time around, the Lakers completed its run to yet another title when it defeated Marcellus 2-0 in Tuesday night’s sectional final at Firebird Stadium in Phoenix.
Pete O’Connor, who took over as head coach this season after Aaron Moss stepped down, said the program’s winning culture has rubbed off on all the players, which allowed them to remain at a high level even after the departure of many stars from the 2021 state title team.
Senior defender Casey Kenan said that his team’s positive attitude allows it to deal with any possible situation.
“What gets us going is not pointing out the negative stuff,” he said.
Going up against a long-time rival against Marcellus brought plenty of challenges. The Mustangs had rolled past Westhill 4-1 in the semifinal round a week earlier helped by a three-goal hat trick from Ryan Constable.
However, the Lakers had shut out Marcellus both times they met in the regular season, and again were effective on defense from the outset, with Connor Corbett and Jeff McCrone joining Kenan in protecting goalie Evan Wingfield.
What helped even more, though, was seeing Jack Phillips pounce on a Marcellus turnover and score 8:36 into the game.
“It put a lot of pressure off,” said Kenan.
Even more space was created when, late in the first half, Heschel Eidel headed Wyatt Langford’s perfectly struck corner kick into the top of the net to double the Lakers’ margin.
Marcellus went all-out early in the second half and generated many opportunities. Again, the Lakers turned them back, and got fortunate when Will Kershaw hit a point-blank shot over the net and Tristin Baker hit a header off the crossbar.
With a third straight sectional title on hand, Skaneateles will face Section IV champion Owego in Saturday’s regional final at Fayetteville-Manlius, a rematch of 2021, where the Lakers won in overtime on the way to a second consecutive state title.