Jun 04, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Coronations, by design, are planned out well in advance. Everyone knows who will ascend to the throne. The only question is how it’s all going to look.
So by that definition, the West Genesee boys lacrosse team’s 13-8 victory over Baldwinsville in last Friday’s Section III Class A final at Central Square was far from a smooth affair.
Running into a hot goalie in the first half, the Wildcats relied on defensive pressure to go out in front before the offense figured things out long enough to go on a sustained tear early in the third quarter.
And even with that, the Bees fought WG all the way to the end, a fact Wildcat fans recognized by giving the B’ville players a sustained ovation as they ran off the field at the end of the night.
Yet it was the Wildcats that claimed its sixth consecutive sectional championship, even if the process was far from smooth.
“We made a lot of mistakes and errors, and have a lot to clean up,” said head coach Mike Messere.
Much of that, said Messere, could be attributed to the intensity the Bees brought in its first championship game since 1994.
Accustomed to building big early leads, WG could not do so in the first half against B’ville, despite its fair share of opportunities. Often, the shots went right into the body of Bees goalie Jordan Marra, who made 11 saves in the first two periods.
“We took some poor shots and made him (Marra) look great,” said senior forward Collin Donahue.
On the other hand, the Wildcats’ defense swarmed over the field whenever possible, which forced B’ville into a steady stream of turnovers and negating its patient attack strategy. As they had done in their previous meeting April 24, defenders Jered Casey and Chris Aubertine did a solid job of containment on top scoring threats Jack Venditti and Jeremy Boltus.
WG carried a modest 4-1 lead into halftime, but it didn’t stay modest for long. In the first seven minutes of the third quarter, the Wildcats put up four unanswered goals and built its margin to 8-1.
“We started moving the ball a bit better,” said Messere. “We found the open guys.”
Donahue and Ryan Barber fared best in this situation, as Donahue earned three goals and two assists and Barber picked up four assists, to go with his single tally. Brian Donahue chipped in with his own three-goal hat trick, too, as Adam Mazzoni added two goals and one assist.
By the end of the third period, it was 10-3, but B’ville refused to go away. It won more face-offs in the fourth quarter, closed the margin to five, and made the Wildcats work all the way to the end as Boltus came up with three goals and one assists, and Venditti added a goal and three assists.
That certainly wasn’t the case in last Tuesday’s Class A semifinals at Cicero-North Syracuse, where the Wildcats breezed through the latest chapter of its ancient rivalry with Fayetteville-Manlius, mostly relying on a first-half blitz to beat the Hornets 15-5.
On the same turf where it rallied past F-M in last year’s riveting Class A final, the game this time was far less suspenseful.
By the time the first quarter was done, WG already had a 5-0 lead, and that steady, relentless attack helped build the margin to 9-1 by halftime.
Add that to a defensive line that stifled anything F-M tried to create (just as it had in their May 8 meeting at Coyne Field), and John Galloway’s strong work in the net (he had 15 saves), and the Wildcats could relax in the late going.
Collin Donahue backed up his three-goal hat trick with three assists, as Joe Pompo also found the net three times and Brian Donahue had two goals as part of a deep attack where 10 different Wildcat players scored. Luke Cometti, Tim Desko, Aaron Printup, Jack Kennedy, Tim Besio, Ben Waldron and Kevin Wadach each notched single goals.
With the sectional part now over, WG could focus on gaining its 15th state Class A championship.
The first step will be taken Tuesday, when the Wildcats met Section IV champion Vestal in the regional finals at CNS. A win would mean a trip to St. John Fisher College near Rochester for Thursday’s semifinals, and it all concludes Saturday with the state championship game, back at CNS, which starts at 4 p.m.
Collin Donahue said the Wildcats’ 7-6 loss to West Islip in last year’s state finals on Long Island has stuck with the players for 12 months — and remains the team’s primary motivation as it tries to get back on top.