Jun 02, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Victory by victory and round by round, the West Genesee boys lacrosse team is restoring the old order and inching closer to a 16th state Class A championship.
The Wildcats survived yet another post-season thriller in Saturday night’s Class A regional final at Union-Endicott High School, hanging on to beat Section IV champion Ithaca 10-9.
It was WG’s third straight one-goal playoff win, following its last-second escape against Baldwinsville in the Section III Class A semifinals and its double-overtime win over Fayetteville-Manlius in the sectional title game.
And it sends the Wildcats to St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, near Rochester, for Wednesday night’s state semifinal against Penfield (Section V), who undertook its own late comeback to beat Orchard Park 12-11 in overtime in its regional final.
Just as with the F-M game, it was not just a matter of a single goal separating WG and Ithaca, it was a matter of inches separating the Little Red from forcing overtime.
Trailing 10-8, Ithaca pulled within one on Jaedon Henderson’s goal with 3:59 left. Then it regained possession and got a glorious chance to pull even, but Eli Lasda’s shot went off the stick of Wildcats goalie Matt Koziol and off the post.
Just by inches, WG still had the lead, and it regained possession, burned through both of its time-outs, and kept the ball away from the Little Red as the clock ran out.
This was an atonement of sorts for the Wildcats, whose last two regional trips, in 2010 and 2011, both ended in defeats to Ithaca. WG’s players remembered those disappointments and would keep its poise through a regional classic that would go back and forth.
Goals from four different players helped WG break out of an early tie and lead, 4-2, after one quarter. But long possessions by the Little Red in the second period wore the Wildcats’ defense down, and Ithaca put in four straight goals to grab a 6-4 lead at the break.
Held without a goal for more than 14 minutes at the end of the half, WG made its own comeback in the third quarter, erasing a pair of two-goal deficits and seizing an 8-7 lead going to the final period.
Early in the fourth quarter, Ryan St. Croix hit a shot off the pipe, the third time a Wildcat shot found iron in this game, a sort of payback for the pipe F-M’s Ryan DaRin hit at the end of regulation in the sectional final – or at least it felt that way after Henderson scored with 8:20 left to tie it, 8-8.
Staying cool, WG answered 20 seconds later as St. Croix notched the go-ahead goal. Two minutes after that, it was Marc Niechcial’s turn to convert, extending WG’s lead to 10-8.
As it turned out, Niechcial’s goal was the game-winner, as Ithaca made its late charge, but hit the iron when it needed to beat Koziol, who finished the night with 14 saves.
St. Croix produced a three-goal hat trick, while Niechcial and Ted Glesener had two goals apiece. Brady Hoose, Tom Pritchard and Jimmy Cunningham chimed in with one goal apiece as Dan Ginestro, the overtime hero against F-M, added an assist. Joseph Howe led Ithaca with three goals.