FULTON — The Fulton girls lacrosse team finished one victory shy of achieving their top goal but had nine seniors that remained grateful for the opportunity to close out their careers on the field.
The top-seeded Red Raiders suffered a 10-7 loss to the No. 3 Jamesville-DeWitt Red Rams in the Section 3 Class C championship game on June 12 at Fulton-G. Ray Bodley High School.
Fulton (12-3 overall) was chasing the program’s first sectional crown and reached the final for the first time since 2018. They advanced to the semifinals in 2019 before the 2020 season was canceled by the state due to COVID-19 concerns last spring.
The game was attended by around 100 Fulton fans, including several recent graduates and former lacrosse standouts, on a sunny day with temperatures in the mid-70s throughout.
“We had a beautiful day, no one is having to wear masks, we have a ton of alumni here supporting and that’s a testament to all the work these girls have put in, it is a special group and it will always be a special group,” Fulton coach Dan Bartlett said.
“They had a fantastic season and have nothing to hang their heads, they earned the No. 1 seed in Section 3, I don’t know that we’ve done that as a program before, they worked really hard,” Bartlett later added. “It’s going to sting because our ultimate goal was a sectional title but I’m proud of everything that they did all year long.”
Fulton jumped out to a 4-2 edge less than 10 minutes into the game before its scoring surge was stalled. Jamesville-DeWitt produced a run to take a 6-4 advantage and eventually led 6-5 at halftime before gradually pulling away in the second half.
The Red Rams dominated time of possession in the second half and held the Red Raiders to their lowest scoring output of the season. Fulton tallied 10 or more goals in all 12 wins this year, including a regular-season sweep over Jamesville-DeWitt, and was held to single digits in each of its three losses.
“We struggled on the draw and then we just didn’t have possession on offense,” Fulton senior Emma Weaver said. “When we did, there were a few times where we made mistakes and I think they capitalized on those mistakes, and we didn’t do the same.”
Weaver scored twice, including a goal to shrink Fulton’s deficit to 9-7 with five minutes left, to surpass the 100-point mark for the season. The senior who will play for Division I Albany next year finished with a team-high 71 goals to go with 30 assists to lead a decorated senior class.
She is one of three Fulton seniors signed to play Division I next season, joining midfielder Lexi Patterson (Army-West Point) and goalie Malie Follett (Notre Dame), among a group of nine longtime program contributors.
“Being a really close group, we had a lot of good seniors on the team so it’s sad for us to go, but the rest of the team is really young, and we’re excited to continue to see them play in the future, and hopefully win one of these games,” Weaver said.
Fulton players remained in close contact last spring despite the cancelation of the season and worked to keep their collective focus on the 2021 campaign.
Their bond was displayed quickly after 700 days between games as the returning seniors instantly blended with young upstarts like freshman Carleigh Patterson and eighth-grader Mya Carroll, who finished second and third on the team in scoring, respectively.
“Our coaches gave us stuff to do during COVID and that definitely helped us build a family, even when we couldn’t see each other in person, but it was hard coming from a year off,” Lexi Patterson said.
“For me personally, I’ll remember getting to play this year with my sister (Carleigh), and we just all love our coaches,” she added.
Carleigh Patterson scored a team-high three goals to go with an assist in the sectional title game while Carroll added a goal. Patterson scored 37 goals to go with a team-best 54 assists for the season while Carroll contributed 55 goals and 12 assists.
They will aim to build on their respective breakouts next year while helping the program extend its recent run of success.
“We still have some really talented players coming back and hopefully days like today are going to make them hungry and make them want to take the next step and ultimately hoist one of these banners ourselves,” Bartlett said.