Led by a pair of seniors — attackman Bryce Johnson and goalie Carson Pickeral — General Brown’s lacrosse team successfully opened its Section 3 playoff quest Saturday.
Johnson scored seven goals and assisted on three others, and Pickeral made nine saves as the second-seeded Lions turned back Frontier League foe and seventh-seeded South Jefferson, 17-5, in a sectional Class D quarterfinal at Fisher Field in Dexter.
Later, fifth-seeded Syracuse-Minoa ended fourth-seeded Watertown’s season with a 15-8 win in a Class C quarterfinal at Watertown.
The Lions completed their first step toward what they hope will be a return trip to the Section 3 finals and beyond — and did so in record fashion.
The Spartans hung tough with General Brown for nearly three quarters before the Lions pulled away to prevail.
“It was close for a while,” Pickeral said. “And then in the fourth quarter, Bryce Johnson just took over, he played a phenomenal game and that was the difference. And Corey O’Connor did a great job on faceoffs, he’s normally an attackman.”
Pickeral, who made five of his saves in the second half, broke the school record for career saves.
General Brown (14-4) advances to the semifinal round where it will play No. 3 Marcellus on Tuesday at East Syracuse-Minoa at a time to be announced.
“Obviously it’s good to get that first win to go on to the next round,” Johnson said. “But I think there’s a lot of things we can improve on — we really didn’t play well until that fourth quarter — so I think we’ve got to put it all together. That was a good South Jeff team, but we’ve just got to put together a full game.”
The Lions won a Section 3 quarterfinal on their home field for the second straight year. but the Spartans didn’t go quietly.
“We’re friends with a lot of their guys and they did a great job of controlling the tempo,” Pickeral said of South Jefferson. “They ran a zone and they accomplished what they wanted to accomplish, they slowed the game down, limited our shots and took pretty long possessions. ... We started winning faceoffs and put the ball in the back of the net. And we took over from there.”
After General Brown led 3-1 at halftime after being blanked in the second quarter, South Jefferson pulled within 4-3 on goal from Caden Goodnough with 6:22 left in the third period.
“The first half was about possession and tempo and they were winning the majority of the faceoffs and outhustling us with the ground balls,” General Brown coach Rich Purvis said. “And then when they had the ball, they took their time on offense and obviously it was working for them. We had to take our time and finally when we started taking our time and being patient, things started clicking.”
The Lions scored three straight goals in the quarter, sparked by a goal each from Cory Smith and Johnson within a 56-second span, to lead 7-4.
O’Connor and Smith scored two quick goals to open the fourth quarter as General Brown opened the period with a 9-0 run to take command.
A strong possession game, led by O’Connor in the faceoff circle, fueled the second-half surge for the Lions.
“I think us winning faceoffs really gave us a boost,” Johnson said. “And our defense played well the whole game. They always play awesome.”
“We made some adjustments in the second half, one by putting Corey O’Connor on the faceoff ‘X’ and he did an awesome job for us,” Purvis said.
The sophomore totaled four goals and an assist, and Carter Rosbrook added two goals and two assists.
By making his first save in the second half, Pickeral surpassed the previous school record for career saves (538) set by goalie Dan Donaldson in 2009.
“Since the middle of my freshman year, I’ve been the starter,” Pickeral said. “I was looking forward to that, I’m glad I got it here at home. But (the record) is not really the goal, our goal as a team and my goal for myself is to win a sectional championship and try and make a run in states.”
Jackson Worden scored three goals to pace South Jefferson (6-11) and Tim Williams finished with 17 saves.
“We battled, that’s about as hard as I’ve had a team play,” South Jefferson coach Randy Fuller said. “We battled for three quarters and we just ran out of gas.”
The Lions, ranked seventh in the state in Class D, advance to face Marcellus, which is ranked No. 4 in the state in the same class.
Luke Rosaschi totaled three goals and five assists, and Lance Madonna scored three goals and assisted on another as the Spartans cruised to victory over the Cyclones.
ES-M (11-5) struck early by scoring the game’s first three goals on the way to building a 6-2 lead through the first quarter.
“They just came out and punched us in the face early and gave us a really big shot,” Watertown coach Brian Navarra said of ES-M. “They just came out firing.”
Ryder Simser scored early in the second period to pull Watertown within 6-3, but the Spartans scored the next two goals to lead 8-3 at halftime.
“It was a start we needed to have,” ES-M coach John McCoy said. “With us traveling about an hour and a half and coming off an earlier loss to Watertown.”
The Spartans scored the first three goals of the second half to extend the lead to 11-3.
The Cyclones responded with a five-goal run to draw within 11-8 late in the third quarter, but got no closer.
“Their goalie made some great saves early in the fourth quarter,” Navarra said.
“It was a very intense game, both sides played extremely hard,” said McCoy, whose team won Section 3’s Class B title last year. “I’ve got to hand it to Watertown — they came out swinging in the third quarter.”
Simser, a senior midfielder, paced Watertown with five goals, and senior attack Will Renzi chipped in two goals and an assist.
Sophomore goalie Evan Richardson made seven saves for the Cyclones (12-5).
“It’s extremely disappointing, especially with the 11 seniors we have,” Navarra said. “Most of them have been together since they were kids playing lacrosse. So it’s extremely difficult for us as a coaching staff and as a program, we’re losing some great kids and great families.”
Wyatt Auyer pumped in a game-high six goals to lift the second-seeded Brothers past the No. 7 Comets in a Class C quarterfinal at CBA.
Colin Kelly contributed four goals and an assist for CBA, last year’s Section 3 Class D titlist.
Goalie Z.J. Shanin made 11 saves for the Brothers, who led 5-1 through the first quarter and 8-3 by halftime.
Josh Demko scored a pair of goals to lead Carthage (9-8) and goalie Noah Parks finished with 11 saves.