Mar 25, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For someone with 15 state championships on the resume and the knowledge that every opponent will come at them full-bore, there is no such thing as a meaningless game.
So it served the West Genesee boys lacrosse team well to get tested right away Tuesday night in its 2009 season opener against Section V power Irondequoit, where the Wildcats needed some strong play down the stretch to beat the Eagles 8-6.
WG got that 15th state title a season ago, overcoming early-season injuries to win 12 in a row and beat Syosset 11-7 for that crown on Long Island.
It only added to a dynastic legacy built by head coach Mike Messere in 33 years at the helm in Camillus, where his teams have lost just 45 games while winning 687 — a win percentage close to .940.
From that 2008 team, several stars have departed, including Luke Cometti, Tim Besio, Mike Fetterly, Ryan Barber and Ben Waldron.
But five starters are back, too, and they fill each position on the field. Steve Mahle returns in goal, Joe Fazio and Jack Conboy anchor the defense, John Glesener is the team’s top midfielder and Jordan Rogers leads the attack.
Add to it players like Jim Marks, Ryan McConnell and Ike Hopper, all of whom saw lots of playing time in ’08, and the Wildcats carry the usual high expectations where nothing short of a state title in Rochester on June 13 will suffice.
Still, as the season began, some rough patches were expected. No less than 10 players had missed practices because they were playing on WG’s hockey team that reached the state final four, the season ending on March 14, just 10 days before the lacrosse opener.
What’s more, in a pre-season scrimmage against Jamesville-DeWitt, Rogers sprained his ankle. It would keep Rogers out of the Irondequoit game, but he is expected to return this week.
Given all this transition, it perhaps wasn’t surprising that Irondequoit, who had already played once (beating Rochester McQuaid 12-4 on March 21), zoomed to a 2-0 lead in the game’s first three minutes on goals by brothers Drew and Greg Coholan.
Despite McConnell’s goal, WG still trailed, 3-1, when it began to settle down on offense midway through the second quarter with a run of four goals in less than three minutes. Glesener, defender Joe Fletcher, Hopper and Jaron Davie all converted, and WG seized a 5-3 lead at halftime.
Try as it could, though, the Wildcats couldn’t put the Eagles away, and its offense got held without a goal for nearly 11 minutes in the second half. That gave Irondequoit time to catch up, and Mike Utz scored three times. He completed the hat trick with 5:29 left for a 6-6 tie.
Tested in a big way early, WG kept cool, controlled the ball — and broke the tie when Tyler Brown scored from the right side with 2:25 left. Less than a minute later, off a time-out, Glesener made a one-on-one move from the right side and beat Eagles goalie Tyler Nash to clinch it.
In all, seven different WG players got goals, with only Glesener finding the net twice. Dylan Donahue joined Brown, Davie, McConnell and Fletcher in the one-goal column, with Marks handing out two assists.
On the other end, Mahle made 13 saves, and even tried a long run up the middle for a shot in the first quarter, Nash having to make a save and Mahle making it back to his own net in time. Nash had 11 saves.
Following its annual scrimmages at the Daniel Hand Tournament in Connecticut this weekend, WG comes home to face Mercer Island, from Washington state, Thursday night before a Saturday clash with St. Francis (Pa.), one of the nation’s top-ranked teams.