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.