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.