Jun 04, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Unfamiliar occurrences have marked the West Genesee boys lacrosse team’s 2010 odyssey, from two early defeats to a goalie switch to a no. 2 seed when the Section III Class A playoffs got started.
Yet the outcome proved quite familiar – a ninth consecutive sectional championship, achieved through very familiar methods.
The Wildcats’ 8-3 victory over Corcoran in Friday night’s Class A final at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium included three items common to most of Mike Messere’s teams through the years, that doomed the Cougars’ quest for a first-ever sectional title.
At the top of that list was defense – a whole lot of defense. In a regular-season split with Corcoran, WG had allowed 21 goals, and knew quite well that containing James Cathers and the rest of the Cougars’ attack would not be easy this time, either.
The key to it, said senior captain Joe Fletcher, was that the lessons assistant coach Bob Deegan preached all season, especially when it came to communication with each other, began to register.
“We finally listened,” Fletcher said. “We had to play team defense.”
They listened well. Fletcher attached himself to Cathers, holding him to a single goal in the first quarter and nothing more, while fellow back-line players Pat Brown and Dylan Lyons closed up the rest of the lanes. Sophomore Scott Sidnam was solid in the net, too, as Corcoran went more than 35 minutes of playing time without scoring, a drought that stretched into the fourth quarter.
“That was a team effort,” Messere said. “Joe couldn’t do it alone. The rest of the kids had to make their slides so that we could be effective.”
Also important to the Wildcats was ball possession. Even when its offense struggled in the first half and shots flew wide, it kept control of the ball – and away from Corcoran. It also won a majority of the ground balls.
It helped that WG won 11 of 16 face-offs, as senior John Glesener and sophomore Matt Schattner combined to beat Cathers at the center X and allowed the Wildcats to keep the ball most of the time.
Which led to the third part of WG’s winning formula – namely, taking care of the ball.
Corcoran, more than anything else, hurt itself with turnovers, some of them forced by the Wildcats’ defense, other times the result of forcing the action once it fell behind.
WG didn’t make those same mistakes, and grabbed a 3-1 lead by halftime as Corey Herrington scored all three goals with feeds from Tim Barber (twice) and Chris Murphy.
Barber earned a third assist on Matt Schattner’s goal in the third quarter. Glesener scored, too, and even when Corcoran’s Derek Eccles cut it to 5-2 early in the final period, Casey Schattner answered 21 seconds later. Dylan Donahue hit twice in the late going to lock it up.
For a team that had to replace eight departed starters from 2009, getting yet another sectional title was no small feat. Messere said that was a tribute to how the team worked and took instruction.
“We’ve had fun working in practice,” he said. “This is a group that wants to learn.”
And more practices are in store before the Wildcats meet Section IV champion Ithaca in Tuesday night’s Class A regional final at Union-Endicott. The Little Red upset WG in this same round a year ago.