Camillus Just in time, the West Genesee boys lacrosse team found the target.
The Wildcats never led in Saturday's season opener against Section V power Penfield until the fourth quarter, but surged just in time with three late goals and emerged with a 5-3 victory over the Patriots.
This is the first time since 2002 that WG starts a season as a challenger in Section III Class A, rather than defending champions. The Wildcats' 10-year title reign was ended by Liverpool in last year's title game in overtime.
Though coach Mike Messere's starting lineup did take some serious hits with the likes of Scott Sidnam, Tim Barber, Jake Sutherland, R.J. Tinklepaugh and Matt Schattner graduating, a solid core of players returns to try and get back the throne.
Penfield provided an ideal opening test. Despite having the ball on its own end much of the first half, the Patriots still seized a 3-1 lead, with only Brady Hoose scoring for the Wildcats.
All through those first two periods, WG had a fair amount of scoring chances, but according to Messere, his team just didn't shoot well. Many of them were gobbled up by Penfield goalie Liam Guyton, who would finish with 11 saves.
Both there, and in the second half, the Wildcats' defense was first-rate, rarely letting the Patriots get close to the net to go after WG's new goalie, junior Matt Koziol, who only had to make three saves.
That defense pitched a second-half shutout, and after Ryan St. Croix's goal closed it to 3-2 in the third quarter, Dan Ginestro beat Guyton for the tying goal early in the final period.
WG kept applying pressure, and with 2:34 to play Tom Pritchard flung a shot that eluded Guyton for the go-ahead goal. Penfield tried to answer, but the Wildcats tacked on a clinching goal by St. Croix with 16 seconds left.
Messere said his team needs to shoot better in a tough stretch of games in the first week of April that includes a Tuesday visit from Fayetteville-Manlius and a Thursday trip to Liverpool, a sectional finals rematch. WG hosts Loyola Academy, from Chicago, next Saturday.