Cast as the top seed again in the Section III Class A playoffs, the West Genesee girls lacrosse team blazed a path toward Tuesday's showdown for the championship against Baldwinsville, to be played at SUNY-Cortland.
The last step was taken Saturday, at Marcellus High School -- but it didn't prove easy, as the Wildcats got a late scare from no. 4 seed Fayetteville-Manlius before knocking out the Hornets by a score of 11-9.
WG, no. 1 in the state Class A rankings, had won both regular-season meetings, but F-M has vastly improved in the ensuing weeks. Knowing this, the Wildcats got off to the ideal start.
Maria DiFato's pair of goals in the first six minutes set the tone, with Sarah Brown and Karlyn Tupper following with goals to make it 4-0, forcing the Hornets into an early time-out.
Slowly, the Hornets inched back, and were only down 5-3 when a key sequence late in the first half helped the Wildcats maintain control.
Within less than a minute, Nicole Greco made the best of her 10 saves, a point-blank stop on Taylor Robinson, and Tupper converted on the other end off a feed from Lauren Michaels.
Instead of a one-goal margin, WG led 6-3 at the break, and Bre Hudgins followed that up by scoring twice in the first three minutes of the second half to make it 8-3.
Gradually, the Wildcats appeared to pull away, as Tupper (using a stick borrowed from older sister Kiersten, a member of the 2007 and '08 state champiosnship teams) landed her third goal with 9:58 left, making it 11-5.
Here, the Wildcats began to relax a bit too much, and F-M stormed at them. Kelly Perry and Mollie Caputo scored. Then Mollie Caputo and Morgan Axenfeld hit on goals 26 seconds apart, cutting the margin to two, and WG needed to force a last-minute turnover just to hang on.