Wildcats drop state semifinal in OT again

All the growing tension, the constant momentum shifts, the passion and heart and energy shown in two hours of constant drama -- and in the end, profound disappointment and frustration.

When the West Genesee girls lacrosse team played Lakeland-Panas in Friday's state Class A semifinal at Tompkins-Cortland Community College, it figured on a tough battle, but expected to pull through so it could pursue its sixth state title a day later.

Instead, it got the same ending as 2009 -- an overtime defeat, the Section I champion Rebels prevailing 12-11 when Kristin Pappalardo put in the decisive goal 19 seconds into the sudden-victory period.

WG took more shots, had more possession time thanks to winning a majority of the draws, and had several opportunities to win before Pappalardo's tie-breaking shot.

"We had the looks, and we just didn't capitalize on those opportunities," head coach Bob Elmer said.

Part of that could be attributed to L-P goalie Alex Fitzpatrick, who constantly denied the Wildcats on point-blank scoring chances as she recorded 17 saves -- eight in the first half, eight in the second half and one in the OT sessions.

Bre Hudgins, who had five goals in another star turn, said her team's own inability to get the right shots had as much to do with it as Fitzpatrick's play.

"She (Alex) was really good," Hudgins said. "But we just didn't do what we were supposed to do."

Remarkably, WG only led twice in this tight affair, including 1-0 after Karlyn Tupper's goal 1:56 into the game. L-P countered with five goals from five different players, bolting to a 5-2 lead that forced the Wildcats to replace Sarah Elmer in goal with Libby Byrne -- just as it had done in the sectional final against Fayetteville-Manlius.

WG's defense settled down, and after Shannon Hawley cut it to 5-3, Mel Murphy and Hudgins scored 10 seconds apart late in the half to tie it, 5-5. Every Wildcat fan now expected the favorites to take charge.

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