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Thursday, May 28, 2015: Cazenovia edges Westhill (again) in overtime (again)

   Leading off today: If you're looking for the two most evenly matched teams in any sport in the state, you could do a whole lot worse than picking Cazenovia and Westhill in boys lacrosse.

   Cazenovia scored three one-goal wins over Westhill this spring -- all in overtime. The latest was also the cruelest, with Westhill giving back a six-goal lead and watching Cazenovia walk away with a 9-8 win on Cole Willard's mid-range blast 56 seconds into the Section 3 Class C championship game Wednesday.

   Willard's fourth goal of the game completed the OT trifecta and a rally from a 6-0 deficit early in the second quarter. Cazenovia downed Westhill in triple overtime April 14 and in another extra-time contest May 1. It moved the Lakers into the NYSPHSAA tournament for third straight season.

   Westhill suffered a blow early in the second half when Andrew Hodgens was lost to a knee injury after having won 9 of 12 faceoffs. Cazenovia won the games final five faceoffs.

   "It's tough when you go three overtimes with the same team," Westhill coach Mike Leuze told "The kids played hard all year. I'm bleeding for them right now, because it's one we should have walked away with."

   More sudden death: Brian Willetts' goal midway through the second overtime gave Smithtown East an 11-10 win over Ward Melville for the Section 11 Class A boys lacrosse title.

   Willetts, who became the program's all-time leading scorer in the semifinals, took the ball at X, cut around defender Thomas Reilly and bounced home the winner 1:53 into the second OT.

   "Once I turned the corner, that's all I was thinking -- game over,” Willetts, a senior heading to Notre Dame in the fall, told MSG Varsity.

   Smithtown East goalie Sean Turner made 16 stops, including several clutch saves after Jake McCulloch's fifth goal tied the game with 8:50 left in the fourth quarter.

   "Sean Turner is a first-year goalie and down the stretch he played unbelievably. The kid works his butt off every day in practice," Willetts said. "I'm just so proud of him that toward the end of the game he got some huge stops for us against some very good players."

   State tournament: Rondout Valley broke open a close game with three goals in a 2:10 span of the fourth quarter and topped Greenwich 6-2 in the first round of the NYSPHSAA Class C boys lacrosse tournament.

   The game was tied at 2-2 before a 90-minute lightning delay late in the third quarter. When play resumed, Rondout Valley dominated play and scored four times in the fourth quarter.

   In Class B, Albany Academy broke away in the second half en route to a 20-6 romp over Highland. Highland held five first-half leads and trailed by just 6-5 entering the third quarter.

   Also in Class B, Vestal scored the first 13 goals in a 19-4 win over Canton. Jake Nelson finished with five goals and five assists, and Sam Bulman added five goals and two assists.

   A long day: Senior Andy Karlan's one-out single in the bottom of the 13th inning knocked in a pair of runs to give Mamaroneck a 2-1 win over Arlington in the Section 1 Class AA baseball semifinals.

   Mamaroneck was down to its final two outs after a surrendering a run on an error to break a scoreless tie in the top of 13th. Miles Haughton started the rally with a single and Emerson Genovese followed with a base hit. Pinch-runner Marquez Jackson-Allen went to third on Genovese's hit, and Genovese moved up 90 feet on a fielders indifference, setting the stage for Karlan.

   "The only thing that was going through my head was that


  • NYSPHSAA boys lacrosse
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  • NYSPHSAA baseball
  • Past years' brackets

  • this was the last game I'd ever play on this field," Karlan, a catcher and fourth-year varsity player told MSG Varsity. "I was not ending with a loss."

       Kumar Nambiar pitched seven innings of relief, striking out 10, for the victory as Mamaroneck advanced to Saturday's title game vs. Roy C. Ketcham.

       Double duty: Mike Kessler's dance card sure looks full this weekend. The Williamsville North junior pulled off the very impressive feat of qualifying for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships in golf and tennis.

       However, a long run in the tennis tourney beginning today at the National Tennis Center in Flushing would cost him his spot in the golf championship at Cornell University because there's a mandatory practice round in Ithaca on Saturday morning ahead of Sunday's first round.

       Kessler mother Cristen will drive him from New York City to Ithaca once his tennis tournament is over.

       "It's going to be hard to make a run at either (title) because me doing two sports limits the amount of intense training I can do, but whatever happens, happens," Mike Kessler told The Buffalo News. "The field is such a high talent level."

       Kessler qualified in both sports last week. On May 18, he shot 116 for 27 holes at the Section 6 golf state qualifier to land in the top nine. He accomplished the tennis portion last Thursday when he lost in the sectional final to East Aurora's Jack McClaren, 7-6 (6), 6-2.

       The newspaper reported Kessler is believed to be the first Section 6 athlete to pull off the golf/tennis double since Aaron Holender of Williamsville North in 2001.

       "I've always wanted to be a different athlete and accomplish something very rare," Kessler said. "I've put a lot of time into both. ... I'm just going to give it my all and we'll go from there."

       Quick thought: While the mandatory golf practice policy may have seemed like a good idea when it was instituted, I hope common sense will prevail if Kessler finds himself in a situation where he can't arrive in Ithaca by Saturday morning but does get there in time to tee off Sunday.

       Though there is section vs. section scoring that takes place in golf, there is no genuine "team" championship that would be put at risk with or without the teen squeezing in a practice round.

       I'm a law-and-order kind of guy, but even I would make an exception in this situation. When the rule was written, I seriously doubt anyone had considered the possibility of missing practice in one sport to compete in the governing body's championship in another sport.

       Here's hoping someone has gotten the ball rolling to give Kessler an exemption if he needs it.

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