Now the West Genesee girls lacrosse team can turn full-time to the business of going after a third consecutive state Class A championship.
Up until last Thursday night's game against Baldwinsville at Henninger's Sunnycrest Field, the Wildcats, even as it sought to improve with each outing, were also dragging the weight of a 52-game win streak, mostly built over two undefeated seasons in 2007 and '08.
By taking a 9-8 defeat to the Bees, WG no longer has to worry about that streak. At the same time, though, the game displayed the threat B'ville possesses to the Wildcats' throne.
First, it looked to be a break that B'ville could not play on its home field, water-logged by a week of rain and snow. So it got moved to a turf at Henninger that closely resembles the Wildcats' own home field.
When Bre Hudgins and Kellyn Savage both scored in the game's first five minutes to give WG a quick 2-0 edge, all looked to be normal. But it would be nearly 30 minutes of game time before the Wildcats would score again.
A tough, sticky B'ville defense, plus the brilliant work in goal by Casey Chiesa, accounted for that long drought. And as WG struggled to finish off scoring plays, B'ville did not, as Kara Moschetti's three goals helped push B'ville to a 6-2 lead.
Finally, Karlyn Tupper ended the drought nine minutes into the second half, but the Bees were content to exchange goals, and the Wildcats still trailed, 9-5, with less than five minutes to play.
Somehow, WG nearly pulled it out. Hudgins converted with 5:02 left. Then, with less than two minutes to play, Tupper and Hudgens converted back-to-back goals 15 seconds apart, shrinking the deficit to one.
The Wildcats would get all kinds of chances to force overtime, but the Bees' defense stood up, as Chiesa made two more big stops (she had 14 saves on the night) to preserve her team's big moment.
Hudgins (four goals), Tupper and Savage (two goals each) accounted for all of WG's goals, with Maria DiFato kept off the board. In support of Moschetti, B'ville teammates Jen Fabian and Katie VanDeValk each scored twice.
The win streak over, WG has a rematch with Liverpool Tuesday at the Solvay High School turf the Warriors call home before hosting a tournament late this week. The Wildcats play defending Class B champion Carthage Thursday night, then meet Maryland powerhouse Mount Hebron on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m., after the boys Wildcats' game against B'ville.