Apr 15, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Yes, it was cold, raw and windy again, and yes, Cicero-North Syracuse stood on the opposing side, providing a serious challenge.
But this time around, the West Genesee girls lacrosse team got the best of it, prevailing 10-7 over the Northstars in a key early-season showdown Tuesday night at Wildcat Stadium.
This was a game WG had waited more than 10 months to play, ever since last May’s stunning 7-6 defeat to the Northstars in the Section III Class A semifinals at Christian Brothers Academy’s Alibrandi Stadium.
At the same time, though, Wildcats head coach Bob Elmer downplayed the revenge factor, saying the game’s real importance lay in gaining confidence plus an edge in the CNY Counties League race, especially since this was the only time WG would face C-NS in the regular season.
One other difference, aside from the stakes, was that it was even colder than in that playoff encounter – so chilly, in fact, that the game time was moved up 90 minutes so that it could be finished before sunset. Still, snow fell and the wind chill dipped below 20 degrees.
And that may have caused a chilling effect on both attacks, for in the early portion goals were tough to find. Other than Riley Donahue’s goal at the 4:20 mark, neither team scored in the first 14-plus minutes.
WG had the ball most of the time, but constantly got frustrated when C-NS goalie Bri Stahr made a series of point-blank stops (she would finish with 12 saves).
So when Hanna Haven put the Northstars on the board at the 14:50 mark to tie it, 1-1, some Wildcat partisans had to wonder if recent, unpleasant history was repeating itself.
Twice in the latter stages of the half, WG went in front, on goals by Hannah Elmer, only to have the Northstars answer as Meghan Duffy and Tiffany Ryan found the net. But Grace Osterdale’s goal a minute before halftime helped the Wildcats take a 4-3 lead to the break.
Early in the second half, WG cringed again as it dominated the time of possession, but saw three consecutive shots bang off the pipes – two posts, plus a crossbar.
Finally, Donahue took over, as her perfect feed set up Osterdale’s second goal with 17:58 left, and then she scored on back-to-back goals in the ensuing three minutes to double the Wildcats’ margin to 7-3.
Donahue said the key to the team’s victory was its ability to work better on rides and clears than it did in the playoff loss to C-NS. Indeed, the Wildcats’ defense constantly forced the Northstars into turnovers, which stifled the visitors’ attempts to catch up. Goalie Katherine Widrick was solid, too, earning six saves.
Even when Duffy and Courtney Kenny hit on goals to cut WG’s lead to 7-5, the Wildcats would answer. Elmer’s third goal made it 8-5, with Marissa Hudgins and Cailyn Negus adding late tallies to create a 10-5 cushion.
C-NS battled to the end, as Duffy and Samantha Tortora scored in the game’s final two minutes, but WG would stay out in front, knowing that there was a good possibility the Wildcats and Northstars could get together late in May, where full payback – or further heartbreak – could await.