Jun 11, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Many times in years past, the Central regional final at the start of the state tournament cycle was a small speed bump in the West Genesee boys lacrosse team’s championship quest.
But that wasn’t the case Tuesday afternoon, when the Wildcats got every bit of a scare from host Vestal before Ryan Barber and his teammates took over down the stretch with a timely 5-0 run to beat the Section IV champion Golden Bears 13-9.
Through most of the Section III playoffs, WG maintained full control against the opposition, outscoring Liverpool, Fayetteville-Manlius and Auburn by a combined margin of 39-11.
And against Vestal, the Wildcats had enjoyed complete success through the years, winning all of its previous 18 meetings with the Golden Bears. That domination of the series would come under fire on a hot, steamy afternoon at Vestal’s new home field.
WG took an early 2-1 lead, but could not do much at even strength against Vestal’s defense. Confident after it had weathered the early Wildcat storm, the Golden Bears made a big move, putting up four unanswered goals (from four different players) to seize a 5-2 advantage late the second quarter.
Now alert to the danger, WG made its own 4-0 run in the last 2:23 of the half. Mike Fetterly’s goals started the push, and Barber ended it with his goal 25.3 seconds before the break as WG seized a 6-5 lead.
That wouldn’t last long, either. Vestal, getting a big performance from goalie Chris Ilse (18 saves), remained close at hand in the third quarter, trading goals and going back in front, 8-7, at the 6:31 mark when Taylor Mansfield scored his third goal of the game, fed by Travis Harrington.
Now, having allowed as many goals as it has all spring, the Wildcats’ defense bore down as Ben Waldron, Joe Fazio and Jack Conboy forced bad shots and turnovers, and goalie Steve Mahle built his save total to 12.
As this was going on, Barber was seizing command of the game. In a span of less than 90 seconds late in the third period, the Syracuse University-bound senior (who missed much of the regular season with a broken foot bone) landed the tying and go-ahead goals, and suddenly WG had a 9-8 lead.
So it remained until the middle of the fourth quarter — where, in one of its patented outbursts, the Wildcats scored three times in the span of 59 seconds to put Vestal away.
Barber, naturally, struck the last of those decisive blows, his fifth goal of the game. Fetterly was the other main threat, finishing with four goals and one assist to match Barber’s point total.
Tim Besio scored twice, with Luke Cometti earning a goal and three assists and Jim Marks earning one goal and one assist. Jordan Rogers gained two assists, with single assists credited to Fazio and Conor Regin.
This leads the Wildcats (19-3) to Thursday’s state semifinal at 3:30 back at Coyne Field against undefeated Section V champion Canandaigua, whose 23-0 mark included an 11-5 romp over Orchard Park in the western regional final. The winner moves on to play for the state title Saturday at 11 a.m. at Hofstra University on Long Island.