Cortland Having already streaked ahead of any of its program’s predecessors and reached its first-ever state final four, the Shaker girls lacrosse team came close to going even further.
But the Blue Bison, who led through much of Friday’s state Class A semifinal at SUNYCortland against Penfield (Section V), could not hold on to two different leads - one early, one late - and fell to the Patriots 5-4 in overtime.
“It was a dream season,” said Shaker head coach Courtney Hill. “We’re just sad that it ended here.”
What made the defeat more difficult to take was the way Shaker’s defense had played throughout the afternoon -- turning back all sorts of Penfield chances, including a series of point-blank stops from senior goaltender Anne Morrison.
Still, Morrison could not keep the Patriots’ Sheila Nesselbush from putting in three goals, the last of them with 1:07 to play in the second OT period to break a 4-4 tie.
For a team that had never appeared on this big stage before there were few early nerves, especially from junior attacker Maddie Devine, who pushed the Blue Bison to an early 3-0 lead. Devine scored the game’s first goal 5:50 into the match. Then, she tallied again less than 90 seconds later, and she assisted on Anne Rehfuss' goal at the 10:43 mark.
But it would take nearly 30 minutes of game time before Shaker scored again. Hill said it was a bad match-up between her side and Penfield’s aggressive defense, which forced the Blue Bison into several turnovers and bad shots.
Penfield could have moved well out in front during Shaker's scoring slump. Instead, the Patriots could only pull even at 3-3 early in the second half before going through their own slump.
A lot of that had to do with Shakers’ defenders. The back line of Julia Enright, Maddy Smith, Lynn Roberts and Eva Torncello offered ample protection for Morrison.