Jun 11, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
From the moment the West Genesee boys lacrosse team left Long Island on June 10, 2006 without the state Class A championship, it had devoted most of its waking moments to making sure that it got the crown back.
Exactly 364 days later, on the turf at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium, the Wildcats’ quest for an unprecedented 15th state title came to a climax — against the same team, West Islip, that had denied them the honor in the first place.
But even though it was close to home on a turf where it had won numerous times, and even though the motive for payback ran deep, West Genesee could not keep these Lions from roaring again.
West Islip took the title in a 9-4 decision where every Wildcat error was magnified, since the Lions were playing at an even higher level than it did when it claimed the crown 12 months earlier. It marked the first time WG lost a state final by more than a one-goal margin.
“They (West Islip) are too good a team to beat them by making the mistakes we made,” said head coach Mike Messere.
An overflow crowd at CNS anticipated this final to live up to the expectations generated when two powerhouses, both considered among the top five teams in the country, square off.
Each side fought early nerves, and the defenses took charge. It took more than seven minutes before West Islip’s Brian Caufield scored to break the 0-0 deadlock.
At first, WG appeared to shrug that deficit off. In the last minute of the opening period, Luke Cometti scored off a feed from Collin Donahue, and Joe Pompo fed Adam Mazzoni for another tally just as the first-quarter buzzer sounded.
The Wildcats led, 2-1 — but that would prove to be its only lead of the afternoon.
It took barely six minutes for West Islip to make its decisive move in the second quarter, as it put up five unanswered goals. Sticking with its man-to-man defense, WG watched the Lions beat them one-on-one with strong moves to the net.
On the other end, it was another matter. Whatever WG attempted to establish on offense fell apart in the face of West Islip’s pressure, and goalie Drew DiCioccio (going to Albany University next fall) made 11 saves.
“We didn’t do well on the ground balls, and when we did get good shots, we shot poorly,” said Messere.
Lions head coach Scott Craig said his team’s aggressiveness on the defensive side rattled the Wildcats, forcing the steady stream of turnovers and bad shots.
Trailing 6-3 at halftime, the Wildcats needed a run. Instead, heralded West Islip freshman Nicky Galasso scored one goal and set up another, making the margin 8-3. All the offense WG managed in the second half was an Aaron Printup goal late in the third period.
Galasso, Caufield and Ryan Waibel each scored twice to lead the Lions to victory. Wildcat goalie John Galloway kept things from being more lopsided, as he finished with 15 saves in his last high school outing.
In the state semifinals Thursday at St. John Fisher College near Rochester, the Wildcats eventually imposed its considerable will on the Irondequoit Eagles and earned an 11-3 victory to return to the state title game.
Both teams played superb defense in the first quarter. However, WG broke through when Printup scored 7:23 into the game and, off the ensuing face-off won by Desko, Mazzoni scored eight seconds later.
Fighting back, Irondequoit (playing without injured leading scorer Drew Coholan) tied it, 2-2, only to have Mazzoni and Brian Donahue answer with goals that put the Wildcats back in front.
Up 4-2 at the break, WG pulled away in the third quarter, just as it had done against Baldwinsville. It put up five unanswered goals in a span of less than four minutes and forced the frustrated Eagles into a series of costly penalties.
Brian Donahue had three goals and two assists, as Collin Donahue added two goals and two assists. Mazzoni, Tim Desko and Printup each had their own two-goal outings, too.
That put the Wildcats at 22-0, but it could not get that 23rd win and add to the program’s unprecedented state championship ledger.
In all, 19 seniors graduate, including both Donahues, plus Galloway, Chris Aubertine, Jered Casey, Shane Crossett, Desko, Mazzoni, Printup, Pompo, Matt Evanchak and Kevin Wadach. It will be up to players like Cometti, Ryan Barber and Ben Waldron to help the Wildcats climb back to the top.