In front of the home crowd in Camillus, the West Genesee girls lacrosse team was not about to see its quest to return to the top of the state Class A ranks end.
The undefeated Wildcats fought off Section IV Corning on Thursday night 10-5 in the Class A regional final. So, for the fifth year in a row, WG finds itself heading back to SUNY-Cortland for another appearance in the state final four.
There, the Wildcats will face Section V champion Pittsford on June 10 at 2:30. The winner of that game will play the final the next day, also at 2:30.
For head coach Bob Elmer’s team, a healthy dose of senior and junior leadership have proven to be a lethal concoction on the field. Of the six players that scored against Corning, four were juniors – Nicole Bello (one goal), Emily Tripodi (one goal, six assists), Kara Dattellas (two goals) and Erica Geremia (one goal).
Yet seniors Katey Hart (three goals) and Julie Dussing (one goal) have also been fixtures for Elmer’s team on the field. Hart’s strength and presence from behind the cage have given defenders headaches trying to figure out how to guard her.
Although the Wildcats’ offense highlighted the night, Elmer said it was the defense that he was particularly proud of, holding the Hawks’ offense in check, especially in the late stages.
At halftime, adjustments were made, as WG keyed in on Corning’s main offensive threats, Mallory Frysinger and Haley Lukefahr. Lead by Shelby Milne and Madison Huegel, the defense limited its opponents’ opportunities, causing havoc with its help defense and speed in the midfield.
The transition on the defensive end led to fluidity and patience on the offensive end. The Wildcats, as usual, ran staggered screens and cuts from all angles.
“The chemistry on the defensive side is awesome,” Milne said. “Most of us have been playing together for a while now so we know how each other plays. Our biggest improvement has been communication.”
Trust has been another contributing factor to the Wildcats’ success, said Milne.
“For me, the trust I have in the other defenders stands out the most,” she said. “I personally know I could never play the way I do if I didn’t have the trust I do in my other defenders. I’m pretty sure the other girls think the same.”
Elmer said his team has been reminded about the past two years that have ended abruptly in the state semifinals in painful one-goal defeats – to Farmingdale in 2009, and to Lakeland-Panas in 2010.
“We’ve dropped the past two semifinal games we’ve been in,” Elmer said. “This team knows that, and we will be ready to show that we can win one in Cortland.”