Those five state Class A state championships earned in the previous decade were nothing but a distant memory to current members of the West Genesee girls lacrosse team.
All these Wildcats had known were three consecutive years of cruel frustration, each time stopped in the semifinal round of the annual state final four at SUNY-Cortland.
And that is what made WG's 10-9 victory over Bay Shore in the 2012 edition of the state semifinals Friday at SUNY-Cortland such a sweet occasion. Tested to the wire, the Wildcats this time worked its way to the winning side of the ledger.
"This is so much weight off our shoulders," said junior goalie Andrea Francisco, whose saves down the stretch had a lot to do with the victory.
Head coach Bob Elmer went further. "It felt like a monkey off the kids' backs," he said. "I'm proud of them for playing so hard."
There was no choice but to play hard against Bay Shore, the Long Island champions from Section XI. Elmer said the Marauders' tactics mirrored that of his Wildcats - speed, skill and all-out aggression on the attack and on the defensive side, too.
Given their similarities, it only figured that the game would be a close affair, despite WG's early efforts to draw clear.
A brief 1-0 deficit vanished when Liz LaComb scored, and it didn't stop there as Erica Geremia, Emily Tripodi and Alia Hildebrandt each scored to put the Wildcats in front 4-1 with the game barely six minutes old.
WG still led 5-2 when Bay Shore made its big move late in the first half. A goal by Carly Cox and back-to-back tallies from Kaitlyn Arnold tied it, 5-5, and an exchange in the waning seconds (Nicole Bello converting for the Wildcats, Cynthia Delcore answering for the Marauders) left them at 6-6 going to the break.