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Comets advance despite delays

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CENTRAL SQUARE — Not even nearly two hours of severe weather delays could deter Carthage’s boys lacrosse team from staying focused on the task at hand Wednesday.

Seth Leonard and Josh Yelvington each scored three goals and goalie Trevor Gibbons made 15 saves as the second-seeded Comets downed third-seeded Auburn, 11-5 in a Section 3 Class B semifinal at Central Square.

Carthage (16-1) advances in the sectional final at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse where it will face the winner of today’s semifinal between top-seeded Jamesville-DeWitt and No. 4 seed Watertown.

“The kids handled their first test,” Carthage coach Kirk Ventiquattro said. “After the (first) delay, I thought we came out and played really well and were impressive early with good focus. And I was even happier with the way we came out in the second half and we showed we were going to continue what we started.”

The start of the game was delayed by a thunderstorm nearby for 30 minutes and was halted early in the second half because of more severe weather for an hour and 20 minutes.

“We just had to stay in it and stay focused,” Gibbons said. “We have to do that now, because now we have bigger fish to fry.”

Against Auburn (10-6), the Comets received a balanced-scoring effort — as Yelvington scored his three goals within a span of 5 minutes in the first half and faceoff specialist Paul Bracy scored two goals — while turning in another notable defensive performance.

Carthage’s defense allowed just three goals in the first half, holding Auburn scoreless in a pivotal stretch of 11 minutes and four seconds.

“We’re really happy with our defense and Trevor Gibbons had a nice game tonight,” said Ventiquattro, who credited his defenders Taylor Morgan, Jake Turck, Gunner Serota and Adam Kehoe. “I think he got back to being his old self today and that’s important because he’s going to see lots of shots on Saturday from some great players.”

While scoring 251 goals this season, the Comets have been particularly stingy on defense as they’ve allowed only 60 goals in 17 games this season — an average of just 3.6 goals yielded per game.

“We’ve been defensive minded all year and we held this team (Auburn) to five goals,” Ventiquattro said. “That’s not a great defensive performance — but we had a great defensive effort going before that second delay.”

“I’m relaxed because I have confidence in my defense,” Gibbons said. “I’m happy that I can make those saves, and I may have to make a couple right on the crease every once and a while, but then it’s all up to me.”

The Comets advanced to their third consecutive sectional final, where they were beaten by Jamesville-DeWitt in each of the past two years.

“It’s nice to get back there,” said Leonard, who also recorded an assist. “Now we want to see if we can shock the world.”

With the Comets leading 9-3 at halftime and following the second weather delay, the Maroons pulled within five goals on Jack Burgmaster’s goal with 4:52 left in the third quarter.

“What I wasn’t happy with was our return from that second long delay,” Ventiquattro said. “They outscored us 3-2 to end the game and some of us took a step back.”

But Carthage would turn back Auburn as Leonard scored with 33.7 seconds remaining in the third as he finished off defender Taylor Morgan’s rush up the field, and Leonard would score again with 1:47 left in the game.

“We started out slow and then we turned it up in the second quarter,” Yelvington said. “In the second half we were able to fend them off, but we have to play a more complete game if we’re going to win on Saturday.”

After Auburn scored the game’s first goal for its only lead, Carthage broke open a close game late in the first quarter and went on to generate a 9-2 surge to close the opening half.

“They got some good possessions, I thought they just played tough offensively,” said Auburn coach Steve Crosby, whose team was led by Jack Burgmaster (three goals). “They took advantage of some situations — we didn’t play good individual defense nor good team defense — and they played great offensively in most scenarios.”

Wednesday’s second semifinal between Watertown and Jamesville-DeWitt was postponed and is rescheduled for 4:30 p.m. today at Central Square.

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