Even with a bit of the excitement taken out by what had taken place earlier in the week, the West Genesee boys lacrosse team's showdown with Fayetteville-Manlius Thursday night at Wildcat Stadium still carried lots of meaning.
In fact, it nearly sent the Wildcats' note-perfect run toward yet another set of Section III and state Class A championships off the rails.
Up by a big margin at halftime on the Hornets, the Wildcats saw that lead disappear, a rare sight that only got alleviated when John Glesener rescued a 9-8 victory in the final minute of regulation.
WG had not scored in the second half when Glesener picked up the ball with less than a minute left. Finding a small opening on the left side, the junior ripped a shot past F-M goalie Stefan Basile just inside the left post with 29.5 seconds to play. It was Glesener's third goal of the night.
F-M would scramble to win the ensuing face-off. Yet even though it had a time-out, the Hornets chose not to use it -- and WG pressured the ball and forced a turnover with 9.3 seconds left, allowing the Wildcats to escape.
Any kind of escape seemed unthinkable in the first half. Despite losing a majority of the face-offs, the Wildcats compensated with aggressive defense. Jack Conboy, Joe Fazio, Joe Fletcher and the rest of the back line produced a string of Hornet turnovers -- and created chances on the other end.
With steady precision, WG worked its way to an 8-2 edge by halftime. Seven different players -- Glesener, Jim Marks, Ike Hopper, Ryan McConnell, Matt McCabe, Conor Regin and Jordan Rogers -- scored, with Tyler Brown contributing an assist.
Most teams, when faced with that kind of deficit against the Wildcats, would never recover, but F-M (who lost to WG 10-2 in their first meeting April 11 at Central Square) answered by dominating the second half.