CORTLAND, N.Y. — It took Kasey Choma one full game and five minutes of another to make her presence felt in the state Class B girls lacrosse final four at SUNY-Cortland, but once she did, it was evident why she’s one of the state’s most feared players.
The senior scored 4:32 into the game then scored two crucial insurance goals in the final 10:33, leading Eastport-South Manor over Fayetteville-Manlius, 9-7, in the state Class B girls lacrosse championship game.
The program last won a state crown in 2015.
“The first game was little harder because there was a good girl faceguarding me. Props to her because she’s a great player,” said Choma, who didn’t register a point in ESM’s 7-4 win over Canandaigua. “It was really huge that Ellie Masera, the junior, stepped up. But it was definitely so much better. Once I got my first goal in today, I knew I was back on.”
Her first goal followed two straight from Masera, who scored a game-high four goals. The duo led the ESM offense in the wake of Jaime Biskup’s season-ending ACL injury that occurred during the first practice of the season.
Choma, who was faceguarded in nearly every game, still scored 71 goals for the fourth-highest total in Suffolk.
“She’s just a very rare breed,” ESM coach Becky Thorn said. “She really is.”
Leading 6-5 at halftime, ESM tacked on when Masera split the defense to make it 7-5 with 22:01 remaining. Fayetteville-Manlius closed the gap to 7-6 less than three minutes later, but ESM won the next draw and slowed the pace considerably.
The Sharks (19-1) didn’t strike again until Choma dodged her defender and fired into the twine for an 8-6 lead with 10:33 to play. Six minutes later, she persistently dodged and was denied several times. Finally, she used an extra burst to find enough room to unleash a laser into the lower-right corner for a 9-6 lead.
“That’s just her,” Thorn said. “That’s just the type of athlete she is. That’s the type of teammate she is. She knows the team is counting on her.”
Fayetteville-Manlius (16-4) made it 9-7 with 3:32 left but couldn’t win the next draw. As ESM chewed away at the clock, the Hornets racked up four yellow cards, leaving the team severely shorthanded. They still had a transition opportunity in the waning seconds, but sophomore goalkeeper Katie Vahle stuffed the shot to preserve the win.
“I know that if I get beat, she always has my back,” defender Catherine Flaherty said. “Having someone you can trust so much in goal, it’s such a big game-changer.”
The biggest game-changer, though, was Choma. After a down performance in the semifinals, she elevated her game.
“She said to me last night that she was scared to lose,” Thorn said. “I think she realized, ‘Now I have to step up.’ ”