On one portion of the turf at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium late on a memorable Saturday night, the Liverpool boys lacrosse team commiserated around sophomore goalie Dominick Madonna.
Not far away from them, the West Genesee Wildcats were celebrating its 10th consecutive Section III Class A title, attained by outlasting the Warriors 7-6 in a triple-overtime classic that left everyone, from the players to the coaches to the massive crowd cheering for both sides, drained.
Liverpool got to the brink of ending a 22-year sectional championship drought, only to see it snatched away when, 1:02 into the third OT session, Connor Khammar fired a shot from the point that eluded Madonna and found the net.
"We put a lot of hard work, dedication and time into this effort," said head coach Mike Felice. "When you get that close (to winning it), it hurts that much more."
A good portion of the hurt stems from the fact that Liverpool, from the time it lost 17-6 to West Genesee back on April 8 in Camillus, had improved so much, rising to no. 10 in the state Class A rankings and crushing Fayetteville-Manlius 14-5 in the sectional semifinals to reach its first title game in a decade.
Just as in the first meeting, Felice and the Warriors sprung a zone defense on the Wildcats - two rows, three players across, in front of Madonna. It forced WG to pass the ball around the perimeter for long periods of time and take low-percentage shots that often misfired.
Though sporadic, Liverpool's attack hit twice in the last minute of the first quarter, Austin Hope tying the game 1-1 and Joe Corapi, just before the horn, beating Tim Birchler to push the Warriors ahead 2-1.
Now with some momentum, Liverpool expanded the margin to 4-1 early in the second quarter on Chris Spencer's back-to-back goals. Not surprisingly, the Wildcats rallied and tied it, 4-4, but the Warriors saw Spencer strike again just 2.8 seconds before halftime to give his side a 5-4 lead at the break.