Not too long ago, the West Genesee boys lacrosse team would consider the regional portion of the Class A state playoffs to be a formality, a small hill to climb on the path to another state title.
Now, though, that hill has turned into a steep mountain -- and in 2010, it was far too steep for the Wildcats to scale.
For the second year in a row, Ithaca, the Section IV champions, ended WG's season, the Little Red relying on a high-powered attack to complement its stellar defense and take out the Wildcats 13-5 Tuesday night at Union-Endicott High School near Binghamton.
Not in 33 years of state tournament appearances had WG taken a defeat so one-sided, and it proved that Ithaca's rise to state power status was not a one-year fluke based on the presence of a first-rate goalie.
Back in 2009, when WG lost to the Little Red 6-2 in this same regional round, it was because A.J. Fiore was impossible to beat in the net. Fiore went on to a stellar freshman campaign across town at Cornell University, leading the Big Red to the NCAA final four.
A year later, circumstances and roles had changed. Now it was the Wildcats playing the part of scrappy sectional champion against an Ithaca squad that was 17-0 and no. 2 in the state rankings. And nothing that happened on Tuesday changed those perceptions.
Further proving that statistics can be deceiving, WG's tandem of John Glesener and Matt Schattner won seven of 10 face-offs in the first half, but the Wildcats couldn't turn those chances into goals as Fiore's successor, Tyler Trueman, had five saves in the half.
Meanwhile, Ithaca attacker Joe Bucci constantly threaded through WG's defense and had three goals as the Little Red bolted out to a 4-0 lead before the Wildcats could get on the board late in the first quarter.