Jun 06, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Through most of the West Genesee girls lacrosse team’s 2014 quest for a seventh state Class A championship in program history, there was little need to discuss the role of fate or destiny, since most of the wins in both the regular season and post-season were of a lopsided nature.
Or at least that was the case until Friday afternoon’s state Class A semifinal against Pittsford at SUNY-Cortland, a game for the ages.
Blowing a four-goal lead late in regulation, the Wildcats trailed at one point in overtime and were nearly extinguished several other times, but somehow survived it all and, with Lexie Meager’s goal early in the third extra period, fought past the Panthers 10-9.
Meager, who had not scored all game, flashed open just long enough for Riley Donahue, working behind the net, to pass to her and, in one motion, Meager sent the shot past Pittsford goalie Molly Maguire to put an end to the epic.
“It was so surreal,” said Meager. “Riley gave me a great pass. Our team deserved to win.”
WG head coach Bob Elmer said his team overcame a less-than-stellar effort to make its way to the state finals.
“I don’t think our kids played their best game,” he said. “But they were disciplined, and I’m proud of them. Pittsford has a lot of heart.”
That heart was shown by both teams, on both ends, from the moment the game started. Four times in the first half, the Panthers went in front, but each time WG equalized before a pair of goals by Taylor Collins 17 seconds apart in the last minute of the half gave the Wildcats a 6-4 edge at the break.
Through most of the second half, WG’s defense, anchored by goalie Katherine Widrick, with Mia DiBello, Liz Bova and Madison Pritchard working on the back line, shut down anything Pittsford tried to establish.
Thus, when Cailyn Negus scored early in the half and Jackie Pardee, off a feed from Hannah Elmer, found the net with 12:35 left, WG’s 8-4 lead seemed quite safe. But the Wildcats knew all too well that Pittsford had rallied from behind throughout its post-season run, so it couldn’t relax yet.
But they had no idea just how tense it would get – or how long it would take to settle matters.
Allie Panara’s goal with 5:03 left began an all-out Panthers rally. Holly Turner dominated in the draw circle, and it led to Panara adding a goal and assist to make it 8-7. Then, with 1:55 left, Panara fed Kelsie Schindler, who put it past Widrick for the tying goal.
Neither team could convert at the end of regulation, leading to a pair of mandatory three-minute overtime periods. Abi Cullinan’s goal late in the first extra period put Pittsford back in front 9-8, and pushed the Wildcats to the brink.
During the second extra period, one possible tying shot clanged off the crossbar, but Hannah Elmer, who had not scored a goal all day, took a well-timed pass from Marissa Hudgins on a free position to score with 29 seconds left, tying it again at 9-9.
Now they went to sudden-victory periods, where the first goal would win. Here, Widrick made the two biggest saves of her career, twice stuffing possible game-winning shots from the Panthers’ sticks.
“I just saw the ball and caught it. “I didn’t want this to be it for our seniors.”
So that period ended 9-9, and so did the next extra frame, leaving the tired Wildcats and Panthers to ponder a fifth three-minute period, with WG a player up due to a Pittsford yellow card.
Donahue cleanly won the face-off from Turner. Then, as the Panthers’ defenders chased both her and Elmer with the same double teams they had used all afternoon, Meager sped for the net, got the pass from Donahue and, within moments, had the entire WG roster mobbing her for delivering a career-defining goal.
The reward was returning to SUNY-Cortland less than 24 hours later for Friday’s state Class A final against West Islip (Section XI), who had its own battle in the semifinals, but beat Suffern 9-7 without having to go through all the OT drama that the Wildcats did.
“We hope we can get our legs back in time for tomorrow,” said Bob Elmer.