The process that undid the Jamesville-DeWitt boys lacrosse team's hopes of a third state Class B championship in four years was a gradual one, but was also clear and obvious.
It unfolded over the middle stages of Saturday's state Class B final at St. John Fisher College, near Rochester, where the Red Rams were attempting to dethrone defending champion Garden City.
J-D, a team accustomed to doing close to anything it wanted when it went on the attack, found itself handcuffed as, throughout the second and third quarters, Trojans sophomore James Sullivan kept grabbing face-offs and charged into the Rams' ends.
All of those possessions led to scoring opportunities - and conversions, something J-D could not stop as Garden City, especially with its work in a third-period scoring blitz, defeated the Rams 13-8.
What made the loss more painful was that the game provided a total contrast to what J-D had done to get this far, not just relying on a high-powered offense, but also making clutch stops on the defensive end, a task made harder when the Rams never got a chance to hold the ball.
Before all that, the early signs were encouraging. J-D goalie Joe Shapiro made a series of terrific stops in the first quarter, shutting out Garden City.
And though the Trojans tried to blanket the Rams' high-scoring duo of Jordan Evans and Griffin Feiner, J-D still inched into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Ryan Durkin and Mike Perkins. At that point, the Rams had to figure that, once Evans and Feiner found some space to operate, things would get even better.
The only problem was that Sullivan was in the face-off circle. And in the first half, regardless of whether Jeff Edwards or Lucas Johnson was lined up next to him, Sullivan kept getting the draws, adding to Garden City's possession time.