SKANEATELES — Skaneateles girls lacrosse certainly doesn't have a lack of experience.
The Lakers, who have played in the section finals the last 17 years under coach Bridget Marquardt, boast 11 trips to the state final four, including six of the last seven years.
Now Section III Skaneateles seeks its fifth state championship this weekend. The Lakers play Section I's Bronxville on Friday at SUNY Cortland. The winner takes on either Section XI's Mattituck or Section V's Palmyra-Macedon on Saturday.
Despite having so much experience — most of the girls have played at SUNY Cortland multiple times — they aren't taking it for granted.
"This week of practice we're going to work as hard as we can to get better lacrosse-wise," senior Olivia Navaroli said. "When it comes to Friday though, it's all about hustle and heart."
When the Lakers took the field for practice Monday afternoon, the goal was simple — keep getting better ahead of the weekend. While they'll see game film of the other team, the focus is on themselves.
"We talked at the beginning of practice about each day and pushing ourselves to work harder, so when it comes to the game we can be prepared as we can be," senior Olivia Dobrovosky said.
Even though most of the Lakers' focus is on their matchup with the Broncos, the coaches know with a short turnaround they have to scout what could possibly be ahead on Saturday.
"It's hard. It's a balancing act that you have to figure out," Marquardt said. "You have to be prepared and hoping this would happen."
Still, there's a confidence about the task at hand.
"We're all a little nervous how big the stage is, but we all know when it comes down to it, we know what we have to do," junior Riley Brogan said. "Each player knows what their role on the team is, and if we all carry that out, we can carry this out and to the best we can."
Skaneateles has faced Bronxville twice in the last four seasons.
If you're a Lakers fan, it's been great.
Navaroli picked off a pass around the eight-meter mark and fired it home in overtime in 2016 to punch Skaneateles' ticket into the state championship game. Two years ago, Kyla Sears netted the overtime game-winner in the state title game.
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"We've ended their season twice and I'm sure that's on their minds," Marquardt said. "But there's new girls on the team. There's some familiarity ... but it doesn't matter who you play, they're all good now. They're one of the best teams in the state in the final weekend."
For some of the girls, the previous encounters -- especially overcoming a six-goal deficit in the state finals -- provide confidence heading into the weekend.
"We know we can come back from anything, because a few years ago we were down by six goals and came back and won it," Brogan said. "We know we can do it. We just have to work together as a team."
FUN SOCK FRIDAY
Marquardt makes sure it's not all about Xs and Os.
The coach has divided her squad into two teams to compete in unusual challenges for fun this season.
There's who gets to the practice field first. Shooting drills. Sometimes dodgeball.
There's also Fun Sock Friday.
The girls compete in who can have the most creative socks. They can feature designs like pink knee-highs with dinosaurs wearing rollerskates, Superman socks with capes coming off the back or pictures of hot dogs on the side.
"It gets us to be competitive in practice," Navaroli said. "Sometimes we're just lackadaisical and going through the motions, but then when it's a competition of red vs. white, we get into it and gets competitive and it's a game."
The Lakers knew it would take a win over Salmon River in regionals to get another Fun Sock Friday. They routed the Shamrocks 18-3, and the bus could have some tough competition in the sock game before they take on Bronxville.
"We said 'We need another Fun Sock Friday,'" Navaroli said. "We've got to win. So we did, and we have another Fun Sock Friday."
For Marquardt, one of the keys over the years is keeping her team loose before big games.
"When they're having fun, they're playing well and winning," Marquardt said.