Having created a lifetime of excitement in its two-week post-season run, the West Genesee girls soccer team kept it fun all the way to the end.
Down by as many as two goals in last Saturday's Class AA regional final against Section II champion Niskayuna at Chittenango High School, the Wildcats nearly made it all up, only to see the Warriors hang on for a 3-2 decision.
By that slim margin, WG was denied an opportunity to return to SUNY-Cortland, alma mater of head coach Janine Corning, and play in this weekend's state final four.
Going in, the Wildcats knew that, to have any chance of success, it had to contain Niskayuna's excellent junior forward, Brooke Knowlton, who had piled up 38 goals this season.
It also knew that the Warriors had just played a long, emotionally draining sectional final against Bethlehem just three days earlier, decided in penalty kicks after the two sides played to a 0-0 stalemate.
By contrast, WG had a week to rest and recover from its sectional final win over Baldwinsville, enough time to charge up again.
Late arrivals to the game would miss a lot of action, as the teams had a wild exchange of three goals in five minutes amid a steady, soaking downpour.
Niskayuna took just 1:09 to get on the board, as Kara Sullivan slipped around the Wildcats' defense and, from the left side, ripped one past Melissa Stevens.
Just as quickly, WG countered, as Colleen Bubnack, not known as a goal scorer for much of the season, crushed a shot from the point that banged off the left post into the net 4:51 into the contest.
Absorbing the blow, the Warriors went back on the attack. A mere 78 seconds later, when Stevens mishandled Whitney Fary's shot from the right, Knowlton charged in from the left and poked it home