Auburn girls lacrosse drops section title rematch against Fayetteville-Manlius | High School

AUBURN — As coach of the defending Class B section champions, Auburn’s Bill Dean believes his girls lacrosse team can compete with any other in the state. 

That was clear in the second half against Fayetteville-Manlius. Unfortunately for the Maroons, their first half hole was too large to climb out of. 

Auburn lost to F-M 13-7 on Thursday at Holland Stadium. The Hornets dealt the Maroons their first defeat since May 28, 2019 when the two teams met in the Section III championship. 

Since that game — and after the canceled spring 2020 season — Auburn had won 16 straight, with the bulk coming during an undefeated 2021 season that ended with the Maroons defeating the Hornets in the title game. 

Thursday’s rematch was played in far from ideal conditions. Rain doused both teams from the opening draw on, and the slippery turf led to more errant plays and ground balls than a typical game. 

“At the end of the day lacrosse is lacrosse and you have to play in weather like this,” Dean said. “Maybe the ball is hooking, or you’re over compensating and your passes are going high. But it’s the same conditions for the other team too.

“It’s kind’ve a neutralizing thing. I don’t think tonight was a true representation of us. We’re young and it’s still early. We’re just trying to get better, work out some kinks and find our identity.”

Auburn’s success in the second half, and lack thereof in the first, was parallel to the team’s success with draws. Unofficially, the Hornets went 9-for-12 in the circle in the first 25 minutes, and buoyed that success to an 8-3 first half lead. 

The Maroons rebounded in the second, winning seven of 10 draws. As a result, the final 25 minutes were far more competitive. After allowing a goal less than a minute into the second half to fall behind 9-3, the Maroons came within four with nine minutes to go. 

F-M, methodical and opportunistic, then scored three straight to put the game out of reach.

Auburn’s performance in the circle comes on the heels of 18 controls last game against East Syracuse Minoa.

“It’s about adjustments. Adjusting your stance or where you try to put the ball. Sometimes too, you see what they’re doing on tape but they switch it up a little bit,” Dean said. “You have to recognize that. My assistant (John Alberici) is terrific with draws. The second half was much better for us. In the game of lacrosse, especially with the girls, if you get those possessions it can lead to a lot of goals. When we had that little bit of a comeback, it’s because we were getting the ball more.”

Danielle Swietonioski and Caroline Smith — who is Auburn’s draw specialist — scored three goals apiece for the Maroons, while Kate Izzo had the other tally. 

Dean commended sophomore goalie Berkley Brown for making several key saves, especially in the second half, that kept the game competitive. 

One of his critiques, though, is Auburn’s need for improvement when breaking out of its own end. Too many times Brown had to wait patiently near her crease to pass to an open teammate, as F-M locked down potential pass recipients. 

“We were a little haphazard. We were condensing the middle of the field, which is not what we want to do,” Dean said. “We want to open things up. Our ride was decent but needs to be worked on. Berkley stopped some on the doorstep, and being able to clear the ball helps.”

One bright spot was Smith, who returns on time this year after suffering a knee injury late last spring that forced her to miss the postseason. 

According to Dean, it’s “business as usual” for one of his top returners. 

“She’s back to her normal self,” Dean said. “I thought it’d take a little time to get back in the flow of things, but we’re three weeks in and she looks to be right where she left off.”

Auburn (1-1) faces West Genesee on Saturday.