CORTLAND. N.Y. — Before the spring season began, the Eastport-South Manor girls lacrosse team faced a semblance of uncertainty on the low attack.
Four seniors graduated from the position, leaving more questions than answers. Aidan Carlson assumed one role, quietly scoring seven goals heading into Friday.
Against Canandaigua in a state Class B semifinal at SUNY-Cortland, the sophomore scored ESM’s biggest goal of the season to date. Reeling after Canandaigua tied the score with a three-goal run, ESM answered 13 minutes later when Ellie Masera fed Carlson.
That started a three-goal run, giving the Sharks a 7-4 win. They’ll play Fayetteville-Manlius at 2 p.m. Saturday in the state Class B championship.
“I just told myself before the game that this was the game I had to step up,” said Carlson, who also scored to make it 3-1.
“We went into this season letting them know that our entire low attack graduated. We had four seniors that started and played every game,” ESM coach Becky Thorn said. “So we’re young. We basically said, ‘If you guys don’t step up, we’re going home.’ ”
With standout Kasey Choma effectively neutralized by a faceguard, Masera did her best to carry ESM (18-1). She had four goals — one that made it 6-4 and another on an empty net that made it 7-4 with 1:50 remaining — resuscitating ESM after it’s 4-1 halftime lead abruptly disappeared.
Canandaigua (18-4) turned the first three draws of the second half into goals, tying the score before ESM could even run an offensive set. Tied at 4, the Sharks finally succeeded in winning the draw.
“Obviously it’s a little scary, but I have confidence in our attack and our defense,” Masera said. “I wasn’t having a doubt in my mind that we weren’t going to bring it together.”
With 19:15 remaining, Thorn opted to have Masera race up the field and hold the ball for over 10 minutes. It was partly to give the midfielders a rest, but it also worked to deflate Canandaigua, which had seized nearly all momentum.
Carlson’s go-ahead goal came on a cut through the middle that Masera made count, resulting in a 5-4 lead with 6:33 remaining.
“It was the right timing, right place and I cut the right spot,” she said.
Choma, tied for fifth in Suffolk with 92 points (68 goals), missed a Team USA U19 training weekend to compete in the state’s final four, and although she didn’t leave her mark on this game, ESM’s young players were ready to step in.
Said Carlson: “We’ve been preparing a lot for that because we know that she’s going to be faceguarded every game.”