SYRACUSE — Webster Thomas did it once, but it couldn’t do it again Wednesday afternoon at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
The Titans took down Hamburg, the state’s No. 1-ranked Class B boys’ lacrosse team, in the quarterfinals of the state tournament Saturday. Their reward for that impressive feat? A showdown with the new No. 1 team in the poll, Jamesville-Dewitt, but this time it was the perennial Section III powerhouse Red Rams who prevailed 13-9.
“Yes, and we weren’t overwhelmed by it,” Thomas coach Rob Ruller said of the difficult road his team was confronted with in its quest for a first state championship in lacrosse.
Now the quest is over, but this was a big achievement for Thomas, this being the deepest it had advanced in the state tournament.
“We’re a good program, and this is another step forward for our program which is cool,” said Ruller. “We want the young kids to aspire to be Titans, and that’s good for our program.”
As for J-D, playing in the semifinals is an almost yearly occurrence, and after losing to eventual state champion Victor last year, the Red Rams are back in the championship game for the third time in four years.
When J-D (20-2) blew out Horseheads in the state quarterfinals Saturday, it gave up two goals all afternoon. Thomas (15-6) surpassed that total barely a minute into the second quarter as Trevor Ford scored off an assist from his brother Travis on a man-up, capping a three-goal run that wiped out J-D’s early 3-0 lead.
After a J-D goal by Griffin Cook, the Titans took their first and last lead of the game as Trevor Ford and Travis Ford scored back-to-back goals to make it 5-4.
The Red Rams then began to take control as they scored the final two goals of the first half and the first of the second half, two of those by coach Jamie Archer’s son, Ryan, to open an 8-5 lead.
“That definitely gave us a little momentum going into the locker room at halftime,” said J-D attack Grayson Burns, who led the Rams with five goals. “But you’ve got to stick with it, stay strong; you’ve got 24 more minutes of lacrosse, so we made sure we came out with intensity to start the second half and pulled away early and held on.”
Burns was the key in that endeavor as he scored three in a row in a span of 2:34 in the third to give J-D an 11-6 lead heading into the final period. “My hats off to J-D, they shot the ball better than we did today,” said Ruller. “They’re very good.”
Thomas’ deficit grew to 12-6, but the Titans had one last surge as goals by Travis Ford, Pierce Currie, and Trevor Ford in a lightning-quick span of 1:01 made it 12-9 with 8:09 left to play. However, J-D goalie Dylan Fleischman made a nice save shortly thereafter to stem the tide, and then the Red Rams’ Cook scored on a man-up with 4:16 to go to close the door.
“We’ve been believing all season that we were going to go all the way so it’s really disappointing,” said Thomas senior midfielder and tri-captain Joe Vasile. “We had the heart, it just wasn’t there today. We’re a tough team, and we knew that would be tough (playing the top-ranked team in the state), but we knew we were better than most people thought we were. We developed as a team, we were a little shaky at the beginning, but we came together during this winning streak at the end.”