SYRACUSE More than 12 months of hard work and determination, mixed in with a healthy amount of talent and wisdom, produced a West Genesee girls lacrosse team that marched onto the Carrier Dome turf Tuesday night with a purpose - and walked off that same turf with the Section III Class A championship firmly back in its grasp.
The fact that the Wildcats beat Cicero-North Syracuse by an emphatic 17-6 margin for that sectional title only made it sweeter, for it was those same Northstars who, a year ago, stunned WG 7-6 in the sectional semifinals.
Senior captain Marissa Hudgins said that her team had focused on reaching this point ever since that defeat, and that the memory of it fueled their mental approach.
"We've been preparing for this game for so long," she said. "We just had to keep up our intensity and push on the accelerator."
Fittingly, it was the senior captains applying the most heat, from Hannah Elmer piling up seven goals and two assists to Riley Donahue contributing three goals and four assists, to Hudgins scoring twice and hustling everywhere to make plays.
And it was an all-out effort, from start to finish, featuring all of the facets of WG's game, from a defense that set a physical tone in the early stages to an attack that erupted late in the first half and ultimately put the game far out of C-NS's reach.
Goals were tough for either side to attain in the early stages, which provided a showcaes for WG's defense. Liz Bova, Mia DiBello, Maddy Pritchard and the rest of the Wildcats' back line tailed the Northstars' attackers everywhere and forced a series of early turnovers.
"We have a great defense that works together so well," said Elmer.
This gave the Wildcats' offense time to stay patient and wait for things to break down. WG didn't take the lead for good until Hudgins' goal at the 9:49 mark of the first half, which made it 2-1, but only hinted at the rout ahead.