There are seven championship games in lacrosse over the next two days. All involve No. 1 seeds meeting No. 2s. Three of them are marquee matchups that are rematches of thrilling upsets in last year's Section VI finals.
All teams that survive move onto traditionally very tough state playoff games on Saturday. Section VI will host Far West Regional tripleheaders for both boys (at Hamburg) and girls (at All High Stadium). The Monsignor Martin winner heads to St. Anthony's on Long Island for the state Catholic title game.
Here's a look at each one-two pairing:
> Class A girls
Who: 2-Lancaster (12-5) vs. 1-Frontier (13-3).
When & where: 5:30 p.m. today at All High Stadium.
Last season's final: Frontier avenged two regular-season losses to Lancaster with a spirited 6-3 win that gave the Falcons their first championship and halted Lancaster's sectional title win streak at six.
This season's matchups: Frontier won in double-overtime, 10-9, at home on April 25; Lancaster won at home, 10-9, on May 9.
Quick-stick analysis: It should be another tremendous game. With the win against Frontier, as well as other early May victories over Hamburg and Amherst, Lancaster looked like it had become the team to beat -- until it lost in its regular season final to Clarence. The Redskins avenged that loss with a 12-10 semifinal victory over the Red Devils. Frontier, meanwhile, has won its last five, including an impressive victory over Nichols.
What's ahead: Far West Regional 6 p.m. Saturday at All High. Pittsford handed Frontier an 11-1 defeat in last year's regional on its way to a state runner-up finish; on Wednesday Pittsford (13-5) plays Penfield (10-8) for the Section V title. The records might not suggest dominance, but level of play in the Rochester area has been a notch higher than Western New York for years. The only time a Section VI girls lacrosse team has won in the Far West Regional round was when Lancaster won the A game in 2008.
> Class B girls
Who: 2-Williamsville North (12-3) vs. 1-Hamburg (15-3).
When & where: 8 p.m. tonight at All High Stadium.
Last season's final: Hamburg owned a win over Lake Shore during the regular season, but the Eagles avenged it with a 17-13 win over the Bulldogs.
This season's matchup: Hamburg won, 14-5, at Will North on May 5.
Quick-stick analysis: The Bulldogs have been waiting for another shot at the championship all season and enter the game as a solid favorite, particularly after handing North its worst loss of the season. Hamburg coach Katy Ryan lauds her squad for putting forth a team effort in all phases.
"They've worked really hard all year to get to this position -- it's definitely been a point of emphasis to get back here and it's been a goal to win it this year," said the former Bulldog standout. "All year we've had seven players in double-digit goals and that's awesome. That's our entire attack. The defense has been solid and [junior] goalie Lauryn Courteau has been a rock for us. It's really been a team game."
North started 8-0, including a key win over Frontier, but is 4-3 over its last seven.
What's ahead: Far West Regional 8 p.m. Saturday at All High. Canandaigua (15-3) and Irondequoit (11-6) play for the Section V title on Wednesday.
If Hamburg should win, it has a rare boost of confidence in that it is a Section VI team which owns a significant regular-season win over a Section V squad. Hamburg beat perennially strong East Rochester, 12-6, on April 16 (ER finished with an 11-8 record after losing in the Class C sectional semifinals).
"We've got a little more confidence under our belts and we truly believe [we have a shot at going deep into the postseason]," said Ryan. "But [today] is first."
> Class C girls
Who: 2-Amherst (12-5) vs. 1-Lake Shore (12-3).
When & where: 3:30 p.m. today at All High Stadium.
Last season's final: Amherst won its seventh straight sectional championship with a 13-8 victory over East Aurora.
This season's matchups: Lake Shore won at home, 9-8, on April 17; Amherst won at home, 13-12, in double-overtime on May 1.
Quick-stick analysis: Like the Orchard Park boys, the Amherst girls have been a longtime power. The Tigers haven't had too many strenuous tests in the sectional finals, especially since it moved from Class B to C in 2007. This, however, should be much different -- particularly with Lake Shore having moved down after winning the B title last year.
As evidenced by the regular-season matchups, this one will very likely be decided in the final minute. Good stat-bad stat for Amherst: The Tigers are 2-2 in their last four -- but the losses were to a pair of Class A schools (Lancaster and Clarence) which may have helped keep them sharp as they go for eight in a row.
What's ahead: Far West Regional, 3:30 p.m. Saturday at All High. No Section VI has won this round in this class either. Waterloo (17-1) and Honeoye Falls-Lima (8-11 against almost all larger schools) play for the Section V title on Wednesday.
> Monsignor Martin boys
Who: 2-St. Joe's (12-5) vs. 1-Bishop Timon-St. Jude (15-4).
When & where: 5 p.m. today at Nichols.
Last season's final: Timon beat Nichols, 17-5, for its second straight title and third in the last four seasons.
This season's matchups: Timon won at home, 18-3, on April 26, then closed out its regular season with an 18-1 rout at St. Joe's last Friday.
Quick-stick analysis: St. Joe's has had perhaps the finest season since the program was founded in 1998. The Marauders, led by 12th-year coach Peter Hudecki, have made the Monsignor Martin championship game for the first time.
But this season's results show that Timon has been on another level than the rest of its league mates, having won all of its Monsignor Martin games by at least 12 goals.
What's ahead: The state Catholic championship is Saturday at St. Anthony's in Melville between the Monsignor Martin winner and a team to be determined. This game has been held the last three years, with the downstate team winning each matchup.
> Class A boys
Who: 2-Clarence (13-4) vs. 1-Orchard Park (12-4).
When & where: 8 p.m. Wednesday at All High Stadium.
Last season's final: Clarence ended OP's Section VI championship streak at 16 with a 7-5 victory.
This season's matchups: OP won at home, 14-5, on April 18; Clarence won at home, 13-11, on May 7.
Quick-stick analysis: Clarence showed that last year wasn't a one-year wonder by splitting the season series with OP, which suffered multiple regular-season losses to Section VI teams (it also lost to Niagara-Wheatfield) for the first time in more than two decades.
"Everybody is getting better -- not just Clarence, Frontier is better, Lancaster is better," said OP coach Gene Tundo, who is three wins away from 500 for his career, which stands seventh on the state's all-time list. "Lancaster was beating us, 8-7, with a few minutes left [in the regular season before OP won, 12-9]. Everybody is playing lacrosse now.
"It's just a combination of things. We have a good team. We have to put 48 minutes together. We did it in our last game [21-5 semifinal rout of Lancaster], but we didn't in the previous games [OP is 3-3 in its last six]. I think that we've been working hard. We'll see. I can't put a finger on it. I think it's going to come down to who wants it more."
A pivotal part of the game will be on face-offs, where Clarence senior Jack Lally has excelled; OP's Mitch Wilson is about 75 percent for the season. Tundo lauded senior Dan Murphy for doing "everything for us. He clears, he's our main offensive guy, he's a D-middie, a man-down middie -- he's done a great job as a captain and a player."
What's ahead: Far West Regional, 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Hamburg. Penfield (14-4) takes on Fairport (18-0) -- ranked second in Class A by the state sportswriters -- in today's Section V final. Clarence lost to Pittsford, 6-5, in last year's regional. Section VI hasn't won this round in Class A since OP advanced to the state championship game in 2009.
> Class B boys
Who: 2-Niagara-Wheatfield (16-2) vs. 1-Hamburg (17-1).
When & where: 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at All High Stadium.
Last season's final: Niagara-Wheatfield beat Hamburg, 10-9, in overtime to win its first title since 1986 and end the Bulldogs' run of four straight championships.
This season's matchup: Hamburg won, 12-7, in Sanborn on April 5.
Quick-stick analysis: This is an extremely compelling matchup. Hamburg has been waiting to avenge last year's loss at All High all season long, and now they've got their shot at the very same squad -- but the Falcons come in playing at a very high level as well.
Hamburg has established itself as the top overall boys team in Western New York with key wins over out-of-towners Langley (Va.), Brother Rice (Mich.) and Canandaguia (Section V), earning a national top 50 computer ranking by laxpower.com. And it owns a win over the Falcons.
However, that win was nearly two months ago, and N-W has put together a very strong run at the end of the year, including victories over both A finalists -- Orchard Park and Clarence -- as well as two wins over Amherst and its only other loss -- a one-goal defeat to Silver Creek.
What's ahead: Far West Regional, 6 p.m. Saturday at Hamburg. If the Bulldogs win, they'll play on their home turf against either Canandaigua (10-8) or Irondequoit (16-2). N-W lost to Irondequoit, 20-7, last year.
> Class C boys
Who: 2-Akron (14-3) vs. 1-Silver Creek (16-1).
When & where: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at All High Stadium.
Last season's final: Silver Creek 17, Amherst 10.
This season's matchup: Silver Creek beat visiting Akron, 29-15, on May 7 in what is believed to be the highest-scoring game in Western New York this season.
Quick-stick analysis: Akron, under first-year coach Bryan Bellis, is enjoying its best season in the history of a young program (the Tigers went went 0-19 in 2005).
However, Silver Creek has been gearing up for the playoffs with two straight 30-goal games. It will take a tremendous defensive performance to stifle the Black Knights, who can trade goals with top teams. Silver Creek won at Niagara-Wheatfield, 17-16, and suffered its only loss of the year in a 22-14 defeat at Orchard Park.
What's ahead: Far West Regional, 1 p.m. Saturday at Hamburg. The Black Knights became the first Section VI Class C team to advance to the state final four last year with a 15-8 regional victory over perennial power Penn Yan, and a rematch is likely. Penn Yan (17-2) plays Livonia (16-3) for the Section V title at 3:30 p.m. today at St. John Fisher.