Jun 06, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Back on April 29, the West Genesee boys lacrosse team dealt with something new — a defeat to Auburn, something it had not experienced in 32 years and 48 previous meetings.
Remembering how bad that felt, and witnessing the Maroons celebrate on the Wildcats’ home turf in Camillus, was all the motivation required Thursday night at Coyne Field — and it didn’t hurt that the Section III Class A championship was on the line.
True to form, WG turned supreme motivation into superior performance, relying on its full complement of stars to cast the Maroons aside in a 15-3 romp that produced the team’s seventh consecutive sectional crown.
“The loss (to Auburn) put us in the dumps,” said attacker Jordan Rogers. “But we got back at them, and it’s awesome.”
When the Maroons pulled off that 5-4 shocker, the entire first attack line — Rogers, Ryan Barber and Mike Fetterly — sat out due to injury or illness, stripping the team of its most potent scoring threats.
Gradually, all of them — first Rogers, then Fetterly, and finally Barber — returned to the field in May. This restored WG to its previous top form and took the pressure off players like Luke Cometti and Tim Besio, who had carried the Wildcats through their rough early patches.
All these factors, said senior defender Ben Waldron, made his team hungry again.
“We had a chip on our shoulders,” said Waldron. “We knew that, once we got our players back, our offense would start clicking.”
And so it did, through the end of the regular season and the playoffs, and again in the title game against Auburn, where the missing players from April showed up and ruined Auburn’s championship dreams. Combined, Rogers, Fetterly and Barber would account for eight goals and six assists.
The offensive part took a while to kick in. Though it never trailed, WG clung to a 3-2 edge late in the first half when Messere called a time-out. The changes he offered were subtle in nature, and difficult to spot — but they sure proved effective.
Tim Besio, who already had a goal, converted again with 2:47 in the half. Less than a minute later, Rogers hit his second goal to make it 5-2, and Fetterly chimed in with his own goal with 41 seconds left in the half, off Luke Cometti’s third assist, to make it 6-2.
The rout soon followed. Rogers had three more goals in the third quarter, giving him five for the game, a new career mark for him, while Besio moved his total to four goals.
All told, it was a 12-0 run, not broken up until the game’s meaningless final minutes. And even as Rogers and Besio were having their say, the Wildcats’ defense was busy rendering the Maroons close to lifeless.
As Waldron, Jack Conboy and Joe Fazio formed a wall around goalie Steve Mahle, long-stick midfielders Jack Kennedy and Chris Burns chased Auburn players around throughout the night and forced turnovers.
Kennedy also contributed an assist on the offensive side, as Waldron earned a goal. Cometti finished with four assists, matching Barber in that category.
Just as in 2007, reaching the championship game required beating Fayetteville-Manlius in the Classs A semifinals.
And though it was shaky in the latter stages, the Wildcats still had full command of the occasion and beat the Hornets 9-6.
F-M was an emotionally charged team, trying to win one for head coach Chris Kenneally, whose father, Edmund, had passed away three days earlier. All the Hornet players wore “EK” patches on their helmets in tribute.
Fetterly, back after missing the May 30 quarterfinal win over Liverpool, got the Wildcats on the board 3:31 into the game, only to have F-M’s Todd Webster answer with a goal just 11 second later.
However, that would be the Hornets’ last tally for more than 29 minutes. When Waldron, Fazio and Conboy were not forcing the F-M attackers outside into low-percentage shots or causing turnovers, Mahle was busy registering 11 saves.
With steady, cold precision, WG reeled off six unanswered goals during this long Hornet drought from five different players — Fetterly, Barber, Cometti, Ryan McConnell and Conor Regin.
All of that would prove important as, for much of the second half, F-M possessed the ball and relentlessly tried to poke holes in WG’s resistance. And it would find modest success, as Matt Taylor and Mike O’Neil each scored twice in a furious fourth-quarter charge.
But when it was needed, the Wildcats got timely goals from Barber and Glesener to settle matters, as Fetterly added three assists and Glesener gained two assists.
Following its win over Auburn, the Wildcats began preparing for Tuesday’s Class A regional final at Vestal, near Birmingham. A win there would bring WG back to Coyne for Thursday’s state semifinals, with the championship game Saturday at Hofstra University on Long Island.
Regardless of the team’s fate in the state playoffs, though, Messere said he was proud of how his team battled through its early crises and still managed to be champions.
“To come back from where we were (a month ago) is great,” he said.