At last, West Genesee's girls lacrosse team has the sixth state championship it waited four long years to attain.
A tense, low-scoring state Class A final against Penfield Saturday at SUNY-Cortland broke open when seniors Emily Tripodi, Erica Geremia and Shannon Hawley combined for four goals late in the second half, leading the Wildcats past the Patriots 9-5.
Tripodi said her group of 16 seniors was driven by a desire to add to the program's winning legacy.
"None of us wanted to leave our West Genesee careers without a state title," she said.
Head coach Bob Elmer, who had won his first five trips to the state final four before the semifinal defeats of the last three years, said this one was different.
"To see this group finally achieve their goal feels good," he said. "It's definitely sweet."
Having finally climbed over the hurdle of the state semifinals (a tough 10-9 win over Bay Shore) that tripped them up the previous three years, WG now dealt with a Penfield side that needed overtime to get past Shaker 5-4 in the other semifinal and had never played in a state title game before.
The Wildcats needed just 1:09 to grab the lead in a trademark manner, as Madison Huegel forced a Penfield turnover and a series of fine passes set up Triopdi in her favorite spot in back of the net, feeding Geremia up front for the point-blank goal.
A minute later, Geremia fed Kara Datellas for another tally to make it 2-0, and Geremia converted again at the 7:10 mark, this time off a pass from Datellas, and Penfield, down 3-0 quickly, had to use a time-out.
That cooled off WG for a while, and Penfield got on the board with Jill Vacanti's goal at the 11:54 mark. But Tripodi answered it less than two minutes later, making it 4-1, and the Wildcats tried to maintain that control for the rest of the half.