SYRACUSE Many times in the last two-plus decades, a thin margin separated the West Genesee boys lacrosse team from Fayetteville-Manlius when a Section III Class A championship at stake, and every single time the Wildcats were on the happy end of that margin, piling up titles and honors along the way.
So when these two rivals went to the homestretch of yet another sectional final Saturday at the Carrier Dome, the preponderance of recent history suggested that, once again, the Hornets would leave the turf heartbroken and that, somehow, someway, WG would win again.
Except that this time, for once, the breaks went to those wearing green and white, not blue and gold.
Twice in the last two minutes of regulation, the Wildcats had shots clang off the post. In between those pipes, Casey Green flung in the go-ahead goal with 20.1 seconds left, and the Hornets prevailed, 12-11, to claim its first sectional title since 1993.
It was an ironic reversal from what happened a year ago, when an F-M shot in the last seconds of regulation found the pipe, and the Wildcats went on to a 6-5 double-overtime victory for its 18th sectional championship in the 20 years since the Hornets had last won it all.
Once trailing 3-0, WG gained three different two-goal leads in the fourth quarter, but could not hold any of them, and as in so many other classic battles with F-M, it came down to a matter of inches.
After John Cote's goal tied the game, 11-11, with 1:53 left (the game's sixth tie), WG had a chance to move back in front, but Ryan McDonald's shot slammed off the post to midfield, and F-M raced down the loose ball, calling a time-out.
From there, the Hornets patiently worked it around until Green, with the ball on the left side, was lined up against WG defender Alex Tripodi.