High school boys lacrosse: Watertown Cyclones celebrate Section 3 championship

May 26—BALDWINSVILLE — When the final horn sounded, the Watertown boys lacrosse team stormed the field, converging on the net where they mobbed their goalie and each other.

Not only did the Cyclones celebrate a breakthrough win, they also reveled in a milestone achievement for the program.

Watertown rode a strong second half to turn back East Syracuse-Minoa, 12-10, on Saturday to win a Section 3 Class B semifinal at Baldwinsville High School.

Nico Spaziani scored four goals and Kage Loftus stepped up by generating three goals and an assist, with all three tallies coming in the second half for the Cyclones.

With the win, Watertown (15-3) will advance to what is believed to be its first sectional final in program history.

"It's, I'm emotional, man," Watertown coach Brian Navarra said. "I've been coaching for 14 years and haven't gotten past this step, we knew this group was capable going into this season and I'm so happy for them and the coaches and the program and it's all paid off. And we're not done yet, but we got to that next step."

The Cyclones also broke out to reach the title game after being denied in each of the past three seasons in the semifinal round.

"I can't describe the emotions, it's overwhelming," Loftus said. "It's a great experience for us."

"To win this game is special," Watertown senior Antonio Marzano said. "We knew this morning it would take a lot of hard work, and that we needed to dedicate ourselves to just push, play good (defense) and shoot well."

Watertown will square off against top-seeded West Genesee at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at Fayetteville-Manlius.

"This is something we've always been striving for in the program, so it's really exciting to be a part of to make it to his level," Spaziani said.

After trailing for much of the first half and down a goal early in the third quarter, Watertown responded with a five-goal run to take command.

"This team is tough, we're mentally tough, we took some punches but we handled it," Navarra said. "In the first half it was Nico who really kept us in the game and then Kage and our whole attack in the second half really carried us offensively. We have a lot to clean up, but we're extremely excited."

"In the second half, we turned it up as a team, we played so much better then in the first half," Spaziani said. "Our defense just played amazing in the second half, we just turned it up and kept going."

Loftus scored the tying goal with an unassisted goal 1:57 into the third quarter and Owen O'Donnell followed with the go-ahead tally 45 seconds later, also on an unassisted effort, and the Cyclones would not trail again.

Jack Converse then won the ensuing draw, sprinted down the field and fired the ball past goalkeeper Luke James, scoring just eight seconds later for a crucial two-goal lead.

"Jack took it and he scored the goal," Loftus said. "That was just straight juice for the team, it really got us all going, we were all real fired up after that."

"That was huge, talk about momentum there, especially when you're faceoff guy goes coast-to-coast off the faceoff," Navarra said. "Our bench was going crazy, our fans were going crazy, a huge momentum builder."

Jack Rathbun and Loftus each followed with a goal to complete the run and the Cyclones led 11-7.

But E-SM wasn't finished and generated a three-goal surge within the final three minutes of the quarter on a pair of goals from Taylor and one from Gavin Rinaldi to close within 11-10.

Loftus would add a goal with 8:43 left to complete the scoring for the final margin.

"I think we definitely picked it up, a lot less turnovers and unnecessary mistakes and overall played more as a team," Loftus said. "And I think we were all more fired up."

Converse was instrumental in the possession game, by winning 16 of 24 faceoffs, including winning seven of 12 in the second half.

"Jack Converse was like a huge part of this game," Navarra said. "In the beginning we was winning at every clamp, but we weren't getting the ground balls, and then he starting winning them to himself and we got the loose balls we needed on the faceoffs, possession is huge this time of year. And I can't say how good Jack Converse was today, he was huge, huge for us today."

Freshman goalie Norman Cushman made 11 saves, including making several key stops down the stretch to record the win. Also for Watertown, Jack Adams recorded three assists.

Rinaldi finished with three goals for East Syracuse-Minoa (11-7) and Taylor and Logan Welch each contributed two goals.

"We wanted to win the Frontier League, go undefeated in the Frontier League and get past the sectional semifinals," Navarra said. "So we've got three checkmarks, which is an amazing accomplishment with this group, and on to the next, one more."

Now the Cyclones get another opportunity against reigning section champion West Genesee, which bested them 11-7, earlier this season, but this time in a sectional final.

"The first sectional championship (game) in the program's history," Loftus said. "It's nothing any of us have experienced, so we're going to put the work in and do our best and hopefully win."

"I'm just so excited, so happy, so happy to go to the championship game," Marzano said. "And get a chance to win, that would be incredible, I can't even put it into words."


Daniel Stiles scored four goals and assisted on another as the third-seeded Trojans defeated the second-seeded Spartans in a Class C semifinal played at Fayetteville-Manlius.

Cooper Swartz generated two goals and two assists, Gabe O'Connor contributed a goal and two assists and Christopher Slade scored a pair of goals for Homer (13-5).

Goalie Ben Bradshaw made 14 saves to record the win for the Trojans, who built a 4-2 lead through the first half and held South Jefferson (14-4) to a pair of goals in both the second and fourth quarters.

Andre Watts tallied a goal and an assist and goalie Noah Cousins finished with 12 saves for the Spartans.


The top-seeded Red Rams downed the fifth-seeded Comets to win a Class C semifinal played at Fayetteville-Manlius.

Jamesville-DeWitt (16-2) built a 10-1 advantage through the first half before expanding the lead to 14-2 entering the final quarter.

Evan Dicob scored a pair of goals for Carthage and goalie Conor Hickey finished with 22 saves.


Chris Doshna generated six points, including supplying four goals, and Nick Rayfield and Jimmy Cox each scored five goals to propel the top-seeded Mustangs past the fourth-seeded Lions to win a Class D semifinal in Chittenango.

Adam Rayfield totaled one goal and four assists and Dieter Steigerwald scored three goals for Marcellus (16-1).

Nolan Ganter scored three goals and assisted on another for General Brown (9-9) and goalie Luke Secreti finished with 14 saves.