May 17, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Many times it has worked out like this, with the West Genesee boys lacrosse team engaging in a tense, hard-fought affair with rival Fayetteville-Manlius at the end of the regular season, only to have a more important sequel shortly follow.
It may happen this way again in 2011 in the wake of the Wildcats’ 7-6 overtime defeat to the Hornets on Tuesday night in what was the last game on F-M Stadium’s 47-year-old grass field before a privately funded all-weather turf is installed during the summer.
The loss did not prevent WG (14-2) from gaining the top seed for the Section III Class A playoffs, with F-M (15-1) as the no. 3 seed and Liverpool, also 15-1, as the no. 2 seed in between. So the Wildcats and Hornets would not have a rematch unless both reach the May 28 sectional final at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium.
Of course, the first chapter was compelling enough. WG had a chance to hurt F-M, just like it has so many other times in so many different circumstances through the decades. This game typified the rivalry – close, physical, strong on the defensive side, with every possession a big one.
The Wildcats chose, on the back line, to stick Pat Brown on sophomore Kevin Lux, while John Sabert handled Ari Waffle and J.D. St. Croix would track Jim Krizman. This worked most of the way as, until the fourth quarter, none of F-M’s top three scorers had a point, and Lux would get shut out.
Meanwhile, the two sides exchanged goals until, at 2-2 in the second quarter, Connor Khammar and Dylan Donahue hit on back-to-back goals. Now up 4-2, the Wildcats nearly expanded the margin before halftime, only to turn it over and watch Derek Andrake convert 6.5 seconds before the horn to cut the margin in half at the break.
After F-M tied it again 4-4 early in the third period, the Wildcats retaliated with Khammar’s second goal to move back in front. And when Donahue beat Stefan Basile for a goal less than a second before the quarter ended, WG, back with a two-goal lead at 6-4, appeared ready to get away.
Yet in a four-minute possession at the start of the fourth quarter, the Wildcats could not put home that insurance goal, leaving the door open for the Hornets. Sure enough, Waffle charged in and converted on a diving shot with 5:49 left, and F-M worked the ball again until Chris Anklin beat Tim Birchler for the tying goal with 1:30 to play.
WG did make a defensive stop at the end of regulation, and Matt Schattner won the overtime faceoff. But after a patient possession that ran off two minutes of clock, Schattner saw Basile grab his shot from the point and clear it out. Then, 2:38 into the extra period, Waffle, off a feed from Krizman, beat Tim Birchler for the game-winner.
Now the Wildcats come home and, for a week, practice hard for a playoff gauntlet that, if taken all the way to a 10th consecutive sectional title, will require three wins in five days, starting at home next Tuesday night against no. 8 seed Cicero-North Syracuse at 7 p.m. The winner gets Corcoran or Baldwinsville in the semifinals May 26 at CNS.