Camillus For almost three quarters on Thursday night, the Oswego Buccaneers appeared ready to spoil West Genesee boys lacrosse coach Mike Messere’s record-breaking night.
The Buccaneers played Messere’s Wildcat squad to a sloppy stalemate through the opening minutes of the second half. But the Wildcats eventually solved Oswego’s zone and delivered Messere his 748th career victory, making him the winningest coach in high school lacrosse history.
“It’s a special thing,” senior captain Matt Schattner said. “It’s a special moment for all of us, especially for coach. He deserves it more than anyone. I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done for everyone in this program.”
West Genesee (8-0) scored the last four goals to hold off Oswego 7-3 at Wildcat Stadium Thursday in front of a large crowd that included dozens of Messere's former players.
As a whole, WG struggled to find holes in the Buccaneers' zone until Messere told his players to start taking the long-range looks they were getting rather than passing up those opportunities.
That fittingly sparked the Wildcats four-goal run to close out the game and give Messere the national wins record, breaking the mark of 747 originally set by Ward Melville's Joe Cuozzo, and matched by Messere two nights earlier in a 14-4 win over Auburn.
Although the postgame celebration focused on Messere, he deflected any praise onto the lacrosse program as a whole.
“It’s kind of a family thing,” he said. “Everybody takes part in it, and everybody feels a part of it.”
After the win, the coach was presented with a specially made Hickory Great Lakes Traditional stick, the game ball, a cake and a tray of cookies.
Messere took over at West Genesee in 1976, so his influence has spread over the better part of two generations. As a result, Messere said, he was bombarded with emails from former players all over the country in anticipation of this night.