Exultant cheers from the stands, happy players hugging each other and posing with the Section III Class A championship banner -- none of this was new for the West Genesee girls lacrosse team.
What was new was the way it earned that title.
Down by four goals in the second half of last Tuesday's Class A final against Baldwinsville at SUNY-Cortland, the Wildcats made it all the way back, forced overtime -- and forced its way past the Bees in a tense 9-8 classic.
These were not the same WG powerhouse teams that flattened all sectional opposition in 2007 and '08 on the way to state championships. And that, according to senior Bre Hudgins, gave this title an added meaning.
"It's a lot more satisfying," she said. "We had to work harder this time around. After losing 14 seniors last year, no one thought we could come back and win it again. That makes it greater."
Head coach Bob Elmer agreed, saying many of his past state champions had deeper rosters than this group, but that none had worked so hard to get to the top.
"We are winning with a lot of heart," he said. "We had more talented teams than this, but these girls refuse to lose."
That resolve would get the supreme test from Baldwinsville, who had ended WG's 52-game win streak back on April 9 at Henninger's Sunnycrest Field, only to see the Wildcats take the rematch May 19 in Camillus, two weeks prior to the final.
They came in ranked no. 1 and 2 in the country, according to laxpower.com. But the Bees were without senior Erika Bulken, who had torn her ACL in that second game against the Wildcats. Bulken's absence, on the offensive end and in the draw circle (where she won 75 percent of draws), would prove to be quite important in the end.