What looked, for a few moments, to be one of the biggest wins in the history of Baldwinsville's girls lacrosse program turned, instead, into one of its most painful defeats.
When West Genesee, the two-time defending state champions, rallied to beat the Bees 9-8 in overtime of Tuesday's Section III Class A final at SUNY-Cortland, it reinforced the Wildcats' supremacy --and at the same time, provided total heartache for everyone clad in red.
At one point in the second half, B'ville led 8-4. Even when the Wildcats came back to tie it, 8-8, the Bees had a shot to win it at the end of regulation. And even down by one, it had a chance to force sudden death at the end of the OT periods.
"We didn't take advantage of our opportunities," head coach Doug Rowe said. "Our shots could have been a bit better."
So ended a memorable trilogy between the top two-ranked teams in both the state and the country.
It began April 9, at Henninger's Sunnycrest Field, when B'ville snapped WG's 52-game win streak, and continued when the Wildcats won the rematch May 19 in Camillus -- a game that would prove fateful for reasons other than the 10-7 outcome.
That was when Erika Bulken, an offensive anchor and lethal in the draw circle (she won about 75 percent of them, according to Rowe), went down for the season with a torn ACL.
Bulken was the only key player on either side to be on the sidelines for the championship game, and B'ville fans will always wonder if the outcome would have been different had Bulken been out there.
As it were, the sides were still evenly matched, and so familiar with each other that they went without a goal for nearly 12 minutes at one point in the first half. B'ville played with energy and fire, and didn't get too discouraged when WG's Maria DiFato scored 2:11 before halftime, giving her side a 4-3 halftime edge.