SKANEATELES — Skaneateles had a sizable advantage in corners and shots, but couldn't quite pull away until the second half.
After a Tigers' goal was waved off right after halftime, the Lakers netted a pair of insurance markers in the final 14 minutes. The No. 2 Skaneateles boys soccer team went on to top No. 15 Mexico 3-0 in the Section III, Class B first round matchup at Skaneateles High School Wednesday.
For Lakers coach Aaron Moss, there was a little concern about his team's 1-0 lead at halftime, especially with the wintry conditions. Despite its favorable seeding, Skaneateles needed overtime to top Mexico in their regular season meeting.
"Mexico is a good team. Their record may not indicate it, but they have some quality players and they compete and battle. ... We knew that this time of the year it's anybody's game, certainly in these types of conditions," Moss said. "We had the same talk, saying 'The longer you keep a team around, the more belief they have and more of a chance they have to beat you.' If someone looks on paper, a No. 2 should beat the No. 15, but you look in the NCAA basketball the 15's beat 2's and 12's beat 5's.
"You've got to be there and compete the whole time. Were we nervous and was there stress? Yes."
Skaneateles hosts No. 7 Marcellus in the section quarterfinals on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Lakers' Sam Gadjo tallied a goal and an assist, while Tylar Moss had a pair of helpers. Owen Cheney and Landon Hellwig each scored once. Yorvin Solis had three saves for the shutout.
It took 2:22 for the Skaneateles to open the scoring when Cheney fired home a shot from short range. There was a brief span of hail before the rain and wind ramped up, putting a halt to both offenses for the first half.
"Nothing against Mexico — they came and competed and we had two tough games against them — but we did more to beat ourselves mentally," Moss said. "We were cold and not talking and we were just reactionary instead of being proactive by anticipating the play. ... We talked at halftime a lot about it and said 'The next goal is going to be big.'"
Mexico had a goal waved off five minutes into the second half. After asking for the 10 yards to be measured off on a free kick, the play started before the official's whistle.
The ball went in, but the goal was waved off and the free kick was done over again. This time, the Lakers cleared it.
After hitting a pair of posts near the midway point of the second frame, the Lakers got their insurance goals. Hellwig headed in a corner kick with 14:03 remaining and Gadjo added to the lead less than seven minutes later.
Skaneateles then cruised to a 3-0 victory to advance to the quarterfinals.
"Today we were tested and we persevered," Moss said. "We ended up creating a couple nice chances there at the end and got two more goals to put it away and finish the game out on a miserable fall night that seemed like winter."
Skaneateles knows the next round won't be any easier. For Moss, who has coached the Lakers for multiple state runs and a championship in 2010, it all comes down to execution on game day.
"We always get better, right? I think we're making strides to that," Moss said. "At the beginning of the year we knew we had work to do. We thought we could be pretty good after summer league and I thought if we stayed healthy, we could surprise some people and we did by winning the league with Marcellus and Westhill and Cazenovia. ... Don't get me wrong, if we're going to beat any of one of those teams again this year, we're going to have to bring our best."