May 09, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Mike Messere has, in 34 years on the sidelines at West Genesee, built a legacy as vast as any lacrosse coach in the United States.
And now that legacy includes 700 career wins, the milestone attained Saturday afternoon in front of a large home crowd in Camillus as the Wildcats beat Liverpool 17-4.
As the final seconds ticked off, WG players gave Messere the game ball, and dozens of his former players came onto the field to share in the celebration.
“Seven hundred wins is more than just a number,” athletic director Tony Pascale said. “It also stands for everything he has done for the West Genesee community.”
For his part, Messere was modest about his big day, saying the wins are as much a tribute to the work done with WG’s players from youth programs all the way up to the varsity level.
“I never thought it would last this long,” Messere said. “You just go work at it, year by year, and look at the day head. You don’t look back.”
Yet it’s impossible to ignore the numbers attained in Messere’s Hall of Fame career. Through Saturday, his teams at West Genesee have gone 700-46, a win percentage of .938, and have won 15 state Class A championships.
Aside from the more than 50 All-Americans Messere has coached, many former WG players have gone on to be great coaches at the high school and college level, including John Desko (Syracuse University), Dan Sheehan (LeMoyne College) and Jeff Tambroni (Cornell University).
The current cast of Wildcats is pretty good, too — tops in the state rankings all spring. And they had a deep desire to get Messere’s milestone out of the way in advance of this Thursday’s highly-anticipated duel with Fayetteville-Manlius.
Aside from some early nerves and allowing the game’s first goal to Liverpool’s Devin Clegg, little went wrong. Ike Hopper’s pair of goals in the first quarter put WG in front 2-1, with Jim Marks and Jaron Davie scoring 22 seconds apart later in the period.
The fun continued in the second quarter, as it had everything from Tyler Brown’s three assists to defender Joe Fletcher flying in and scoring just before halftime to make it 10-3.
John Glesener had all four of his goals in the third quarter to put Liverpool away. Hopper finished with five goals, as Jordan Rogers earned three goals and two assists. Fletcher, Joe Fazio, Jack Conboy and the rest of WG’s vaunted defense held three of the Warriors’ top scorers — Tyler Kamide, Matt DiMarco and Mitch Long — without a goal.
This was just the team’s third win in five days, a run that kicked off last Tuesday night at Holland Stadium with a critical 10-5 win over Auburn.
These two sides hadn’t met since last year’s Section III Class A final, and the Maroons had built a 7-3 record through controlling the game’s tempo and playing first-rate defense.
WG cared about none of this, though, as it took full advantage of Auburn’s first-half struggles, dominating the possession and claiming a 3-0 lead before the first quarter was done.
The Maroons got on the board in the second period, but just once. Meanwhile, the Wildcats extended the margin to 7-1 — which, as it turned out, was needed.
Auburn roared back in the third period, closing within three, 8-5, with lots of time in the fourth quarter to do the rest. But Conboy, Fazio and Fletcher shut the door again in the final period.
On the offensive end, Matt McCabe had three goals, with Jim Marks adding two goals. Five other players — Hopper, Rogers, Davie, Ryan McConnell and Connor Regin — scored, too, with Hopper adding two assists. Glesener, Brown and Chris Burns earned assists.
Messere’s 699th win came back at home, on Thursday night, as the Wildcats jumped all over Central Square and beat the Red Hawks 13-5.
Much like the Auburn game, WG bolted from the gate, only this time using seven goals in the first quarter to overwhelm Central Square. By halftime, it was 9-2, and though it relaxed a bit in the second half, the Wildcats were never in danger.
Hopper, with two goals and four assists, led in points, as McCabe and Rogers both had three goals and two assists. Marks scored twice, adding one assist as Brown, McConnell and Shane Martin also scored. Davie contributed two assists.
The 700th win secure, WG turned to Tuesday’s trip to Rome Free Academy as the warm-up for the F-M rematch. The Wildcats won their initial meeting, 10-2, at Central Square on April 11, and that remains the Hornets’ lone defeat as it entered the week 12-1 and no. 6 in the state Class A rankings.
In other words, just the type of big game Mike Messere’s teams always seems to have won for the last three decades.