May 28, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Connor Khammar only had a second to get his shot off – not enough time, to be sure, to think about the history that lay on his stick.
But when Khammar fired from the point, and the ball crashed into the net, a remarkable streak was preserved as the West Genesee boys lacrosse team outlasted a strong challenge from Liverpool for a 7-6, triple-overtime victory and its 10th consecutive Section III Class A championship Saturday night at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium.
Head coach Mike Messere has seen plenty of great moments in his long tenure, but as he pointed out, not since the 1998 state final against Ward Melville had the Wildcats gone through a triple-overtime post-season contest.
It almost didn’t get that far here, either. WG had the ball at the end of regulation and thought it had scored the game-winner as time ran out, but it was ruled that the ball had not reached the net when the horn sounded.
Messere told his players, before the overtime started, to stay patient. That patience was sorely tested as, through two full four-minute extra periods, it held the ball most of the time, yet could not put a shot past Liverpool’s sophomore goalie, Dominick Madonna.
As the third OT started, though, Matt Schattner won his second straight face-off, and again WG worked the ball around against the Warriors’ packed-in zone defense, which had caused so much trouble all night.
The ball worked around to Khammar. To this point, he said, he had only taken three shots, twice missing the net and hitting the post on another because he had hurried those attempts.
“This time, I had a second to shoot, and I took a little bit off my shot,” he said.
And that patient, slightly altered shot eluded Madonna, giving WG yet another championship to add to its long list of accomplishments. It also managed to pull off the feat of winning both of its last two sectional Class A playoff games on consecutive days.
Forced by bad weather to play the Class A semifinal against no. 5 seed Baldwinsville on Friday, the Wildcats adjusted well, sailing past the Bees 14-4 in Camillus as Air Force Academy-bound Dylan Donahue outscored B’ville by himself with six goals and two assists. Corey Herrington had five assists.
Meanwhile, Liverpool was ripping past Fayetteville-Manlius 14-5 in the other semifinal, proving it had come a long way since taking a 17-6 beating at the hands of the Wildcats back on April 7. The close, tense nature of the final only reinforced just how much the Warriors had caught up.
Playing a tighter zone than it had shown in the first meeting, Liverpool kept WG without a goal for more than 12 minutes in the first half as it seized a 4-1 lead. For a moment, the Wildcats solved things as it came back to tie it, 4-4, but Chris Spencer’s third goal, just 2.8 seconds before the half, put his team in front 5-4 going to the break.
Both defenses really took hold in the third quarter. In WG’s case, that meant Pat Brown was tailing Matt Savlov, who had scored 10 goals in the Warriors’ two previous playoff wins, but would get none on this night. John Sabert did just as good a job on Corapi, holding him to one goal.
WG tied it, 5-5, on Ted Glesener’s clever fake pass to the point that left Madonna looking the other way when Glesener, still in possession, fired it home. Then it was the Warriors’ turn to go quiet, the Wildcats forcing five turnovers in the fourth quarter alone.
Yet it wasn’t until Donahue’s goal with 3:57 left that the Wildcats regained the lead, 6-5, and that didn’t last, either. Corapi won the ensuing faceoff and Liverpool worked the ball around until, with 2:02 left, Corapi charged and flung a shot past Tim Birchler just before he entered the crease.
That set up a long final act, with missed chances on both sides before Khammar got the most important goal of his lacrosse career.
“It feels so awesome,” he said. “We didn’t want it to end now.”
To have it continue, WG will need to accomplish what it could not in 2009 or 2010 – namely, beat Ithaca in the Class A regional playoffs. They meet for a third straight time on Wednesday at 3:30 at Ithaca.
“It would be nice to beat them this time,” said Messere.
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