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Immaculate Heart Central edges past LaFayette

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The Immaculate Heart Central and LaFayette girls lacrosse teams were reminded Tuesday night that the lacrosse stick is the most important piece of equipment in the game.

The second-seeded Cavaliers survived a first-half run to rally past the No. 7 Lancers, 18-17, in the Section 3 Class C quarterfinals. LaFayette had three goals called back as a result of a player scoring with an illegal stick.

“It was all pocket,” said IHC coach John Connolly, explaining why the goals were disallowed. “The ball has to be seen when it’s laying in the pocket. (Goalie) Victoria Fusco sees the shots and it’s her call every time. She knows when to call it. I trust her, and they were all illegal.”

LaFayette attacker Emily Peebles had two goals taken away and junior Cassley Jackowski had the potential tying goal removed with 1 minute, 41 seconds left in regulation after officials checked her stick. IHC was a man down due after coach Connolly received a yellow card.

IHC senior Briana McClusky, who had six points, said Fusco has pointed out an illegal stick a few times this season.

“Victoria will sometimes get one every now and then, but three in one game, I’ve never seen it,” she said.

Christine Wright led the way with five goals and four assists. Kayla Miles and Erin McClusky also provided three goals each for the Cavaliers (15-2 overall).

Nina Schaefer paced the Lancers with five goals.

IHC got out to a 6-1 lead, with three goals from Wright.

“We came out as a team and we played strong,” she said.

The Lancers then finished the half scoring 9 of the last 11 goals to lead 10-8 at halftime. Cavaliers attacker Hannah Connolly, who scored twice and handed out four assists, said that the Lancers were outplaying IHC in certain aspects.

“I think draws really set the tone,” she said. “Whoever came up with the draws really had possession. We struggled with transitions.”

LaFayette (12-6) then got out to a 15-10 lead before IHC called time out with 18:32 left.

“We just had to put it all out,” coach Connolly said. “We had to adjust a little on the defensive end.”

IHC also made a change by putting Erin McClusky at the X for draw controls.

“Erin did a phenomenal job,” he said. “Kayla (Miles) was kind of banged up. She had her knuckles all busted and couldn’t push very well. Erin controlled the ball tremendously. That was the key for keeping and gaining possession.”

The Cavaliers then rattled off eight consecutive goals to lead 18-15 with 9:54 left.

The Lancers got within one thanks to Maddison Appel, who also had four points.

The late LaFayette run and being a man down with 2:02 left made for tense moments for IHC.

“That’s the hardest two minutes of any game when you know that you have the lead, but you have to hold it,” said Hannah Connolly. “Especially in a man-down situation.”

The Cavaliers will now face third-seeded Skaneateles, which beat No. 6 Mexico 18-6, at 7 p.m. Thursday at Henninger.

Coach Connolly knows that game will be a test.

“They are third in the state. They’re one of the best Class C teams in New York State,” he said. “We are just going to come out and play the game.”

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