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.