Jun 06, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
All the usual elements — skill, poise, determination, discipline – were in place for the West Genesee boys lacrosse team as it went after its eighth straight Section III Class A championship Friday night at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium.
So it wasn’t a surprise that the Wildcats beat Fayetteville-Manlius 11-9 to continue its own reign and also extend the Hornets’ 16-year championship drought. What was surprising, though, was the way WG won it — and how delighted head coach Mike Messere felt when it was done.
“This was a good team we beat, and this was exciting,” Messere said. “To beat this team three times in a season was quite a feat for us.”
Indeed it was an exciting affair, with numerous lead changes and momentum shifts, and the outcome in doubt until the last minutes, when all the Wildcats’ championship experience — plus a bit of surprise — led to victory.
F-M jumped out to leads of 2-0 and 4-2 in the first half. Each time, WG came back, five different players scoring as it claimed a 6-5 lead by halftime.
Right away, the Hornets answered, with two goals in a span of nine seconds early in the third quarter to seize a 7-6 lead. But those would be F-M’s lone tallies of the period as Jack Conboy, Joe Fazio, Joe Fletcher and the rest of WG’s defense shut the door.
The tension only built in the fourth quarter. Both sides took one-goal leads. Both gave them up, as Matt Taylor’s fifth goal with 3:43 left made it 9-9, the game’s sixth tie.
Now, Messere said, “it was all about who could show the most heart at the end.”
What followed in the next 25 seconds of game time decided the outcome.
F-M won the face-off, then called its last time-out, only to turn the ball over within seconds. As this was going on, Ike Hopper and John Glesener, harking back to their days of box lacrosse, devised a plan that would cripple the Hornets.
When play resumed, Hopper took the ball inbounds, then raced down the left side of the field. Everyone on the F-M defense, plus goalie Stefan Basile, followed Hopper’s progress as he twirled his stick and searched for a teammate to pass to.
Only Hopper didn’t have the ball.
Somewhere as the play started, Hopper had given the ball to Glesener, who had to be coy about keeping possession without the Hornets knowing it. Soon enough, F-M found out — when Glesener had crushed a shot into the net with 3:18 left.
Stunned by what Hopper and Glesener had pulled off, F-M could not answer. Chris Burns stripped the ball when the Hornets attacked, and the Wildcats worked it on the other end until Conor Regin converted with 2:04 left.
That was Regin’s third goal of the night to go with Glesener, Matt McCabe and Jim Marks each scoring twice. Hopper and Jordan Rogers had the other goals. Steve Mahle picked up 10 saves on the night.
West Genesee is after a 16th state championship, and would start that quest Tuesday at Bragman Stadium against Section IV champion Ithaca. The winner would move to Thursday’s semifinal at St. John Fisher College against Orchard Park or Webster Thomas, with the finals June 13 at Rochester Rhinos Stadium.
“There’s still a couple of games to go,” Glesener said. “We need to stay focused and stay humble. It’s just going to get tougher.”