Mar 30, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Two and a half months from now, the West Genesee boys lacrosse team fully expects to be making the long bus ride to Hofstra University on Long Island, once again trying to nab a state Class A championship to go with the 14 it already owns.
After winning every state crown from 2001 to 2004, the Wildcats have dropped the state title game to East Islip each of the past two seasons.
What made the ’07 defeat so painful was that a great group of Wildcats were on the way out, from attackers Collin Donahue and Adam Mazzoni to mdifielders Tim Desko, Joe Pompo and Aaron Printup, to defenders Chris Aubertine, Shane Crossett and Jared Casey.
And that didn’t even include the biggest departure — goalie John Galloway, arguably the finest net-minder in the history of the Wildcat program. An All-American as a senior at WG, Galloway went to Syracuse University and is already the starting goalie for the Orange, a team that sits atop the national rankings.
Yet no one maintains a dynasty in high school sports without being able to plug in new talent. As usual, head coach Mike Messere has a full complement of players ready to step in and join veterans like Luke Cometti, Mike Fetterly and Tim Besio in the fold.
The need for new blood might be even greater after the events of Saturday’s opener against Pennsylvania state champion Downingtown East, a tough affair that saw the Wildcats beat the Cougars 7-4.
Just before halftime, Ryan Barber, the Wildcats’ top returning goal-scorer who had already scored in this game, went down with a foot injury. He did not return.
WG, as it turned out, did not spend much time on the attack. Downingtown East won its fair share of face-offs and proceeded to hold the ball for long possessions, doing everything that it could to keep the game close.
Early in the second quarter, junior Jordan Rogers, one of WG’s new attackers, scored to break a 1-1 tie and put the Wildcats in front for good. Sophomore John Glesener (who also took many face-offs) and Ryan McConnell also scored in that frame, helping the Wildcats build a 4-1 lead.
Downingtown closed it to 4-3 on Dylan Huff’s goal midway through the third quarter, but Rogers answered with his second goal just 26 seconds later, and senior defender Ben Waldron fired in a shot from 20 yards out less than two minutes later to make it 6-3.
Waldron had a terrific overall game. His 50-yard pass led to Barber’s first-quarter goal before the injury, and Waldron anchored a new-look defense where basketball stars Jack Conboy and Joe Fazio took turns extending the Cougars’ attack far away from the net.
Junior Steve Mahle, in his first start in goal, showed himself to be quite capable of filling Galloway’s place in the crease, stopping 18 of the 22 shots he faced.
Rogers tacked on a third goal in the fourth quarter, as he was the lone Wildcat player to find the net more than once. Cometti, Fetterly and Ike Hopper each got credit for assists, too.
After going to Irondequoit on Tuesday night, WG will get a big early test Friday night when archrival Fayetteville-Manlius visits for a 7:30 faceoff at Wildcat Stadium. It is the first of two regular-season meetings with the Hornets.