May 25, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
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.
“I saw the time ticking down, and I had to make a move,” said Green.
Using his speed, Green moved past Tripodi, drew a penalty, but still managed to leap just short of the crease and fire a shot past Wildcat goalie Matt Koziol and into the net.
WG had the ball most of the the first quarter, but it took more than 11 minutes For WG to get on the board with Mike Fletcher’s goal.
By then, the Hornets were in front 3-0, as Luke Krizman converted early and, in a 12-second span, Cote assisted on Dylan Taylor-Wolford’s goal and then scored himself when a shot crashed off the post and then off the back of Koziol, trickling into the net.
The second quarter followed the first, in that WG again held the ball for most the period, and that persistent pressure paid off when Nick Cunningham converted twice in a 22-second span late in the half – first off a feed from David Procopio, then off an F-M turnover deep in its own end – to tie it at 3-3.
Yet despite not having the ball for much of the half, the Hornets pushed back in front, 4-3, when Krizman’s bounce shot eluded Koziol and went into the net 6.5 seconds before the break.
It took all of 41 seconds in the third quarter for WG to pull even again, 4-4, with Procopio finding the net off a feed from Tyler Brown. Procopio had helped the Wildcats win eight of 11 face-offs,and the pressure led to the Wildcats’ first lead at 5-4 when Derek Farrell scored.
Just two minutes later, Luke Jordan answered, and 40 seconds after that it was Oliver putting the Hornets back in front, 6-5. That lead lasted just 50 seconds, though, as Brown and Mike Geremia hit on goals 28 seconds apart, giving WG a tenuous 7-6 lead with one period left.
Procopio’s goal 17 seconds into the fourth quarter doubled the Wildcats’ lead to 8-6, and an exchange of goals followed until Alex Leuze, with 3:35 left, tied the game at 10-10, a tie that Cunningham broke with a nifty move to the net for the go-ahead goal with 2:30 to play.
But F-M, as it turned out, would get the last – and most important – surge.