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Girls Wildcats fight to fifth straight sectional title

Like they had done so many times before this spring for the West Genesee girls lacrosse team, Emily Tripodi found Erica Geremia cutting near the net, passed, and watched Geremia fire the high shot into the net.

Only this time, the goal meant a bit more, for it made the difference as the Wildcats won its fifth consecutive Section III Class A championship Tuesday night at Liverpool High School Stadium, edging past Baldwinsville 11-10 as Geremia's goal with 35.6 seconds left decided matters.

Tripodi, who finished with five assists on the night to go with one goal, said her team's vast experience in big games made a difference.

"We've been here before, and we know exactly what to do," she said.

What they did, according to head coach Bob Elmer, was maintain its poise despite three different B'ville comebacks on this hot, sultry evening.

"I'm proud of the work we have done," said Elmer. "The kids really came through. To win this many titles in a row is not an easy thing."

Indeed, it was the second straight year where WG won the sectional final by a single goal. But while it had to come from behind to derail Fayetteville-Manlius in 2010, here it had to fend off a B'vlle squad that would not surrender, even when the Wildcats went ahead 7-3 early in the second half.

The reason WG had that advantage was a first-rate defense that held things together in the early going, even as the Bees dominated possession in the early going.

Back-line players Madison Huegel, Natalie Anderson, Shelby Milne and Brittany Didio kept turning attacks away, and both goalies, Libby Byrne (in the first half) and Rachel Watkins (in the second half), would have superb outings, too, combining for 14 saves.

Late in the first half, the Wildcats' vaunted attack started to click. Back-to-back goals by Nicole Bello pushed WG in front, 3-2, and Tripodi, Kara Datellas and Katey Hart followed with tallies that made it 6-2 going into the break.

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