CAMILLUS, N.Y. – Bob Elmer had just walked out of the locker room, disappointed but not devastated following a one-goal lacrosse loss on the home field.
"These guys just lost to a great team and they feel as though they lost to a nobody. Sometimes expectations are up here," he said, raising a hand a few inches above his head.
"And you have to bring them back down to here," he said, lowering the same hand to chin level. "But I like that expectation to win every time."
Such is life at West Genesee (Camillus, N.Y.). With apologies to Mount Vernon basketball, the boys lacrosse team is possibly the most fabled program in any sport in the state, having won a record 15 New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships.
And Elmer’s girls are doing just fine making up for lost time. Though the girls state tournament is only 15 years old, West Genny has won five of those championships in Class A since 2001.
The Wildcats dropped a 14-13 verdict to Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) in the final of the West Genesee Tournament on Saturday in a confrontation between two of the top 20 teams in the country. Bre Hudgins' fourth goal of the day pulled West Genesee into a tie with 29.4 seconds to go, but the Falcons' Shannon Lechner, a Towson State recruit, fired home the winner with 0:11.2 left in regulation.
West Genesee held a 7-6 lead at the half, but Good Counsel went on a 6-2 run in the first 11:30 of the second half.
"It’s not the way we had it penciled in," Elmer said, "but Good Counsel is a great team with so many great athletes."
The loss was a rarity for West Genesee, New York’s top-ranked large school, but not a setback that will have lingering effects. Besides the fact that Good Counsel has 10 Division I senior recruits on a perennially strong roster, the Falcons were playing their 17th game of an 18-game regular season. West Genesee came in having played just eight games, winning them all.
Now, the focus is on the last four weeks of the regular season. The Wildcats have four very winnable games ahead before playing their final three of the regular season on the road – including potentially rugged rematches with Baldwinsville and Fayetteville-Manlius (Manlius, N.Y.).
West Genesee has tons of firepower. Morgan Corso leads the way with 27 goals to go with 11 assists, Karlyn Tupper has 21 goals, Katey Hart 18 and Hudgins 15. Emily Tripodi has posted eight goals and 15 assists.
"When we go out onto the field, I don’t think we necessarily think about how good the other team is," said Hudgins, a Brown University recruit. "When we talked to the girls before this game we said there’s no reason to be concerned with who their better players are. It’s more about us and playing our game. No matter how good the other team is we should come up with a win."
And that shouldn’t be mistaken for arrogance. Rather, it’s the attitude instilled in lacrosse players – boys and girls – in the town at a very early age. Wildcats fans are supportive, but they have high expectations. State title after state title tends to have that sort of effect on the natives.
"We’ve had a well-built program for years and years," said Tupper, who’ll head to Storrs next fall to play for UConn. "We have summer camp every morning for six weeks, a five-on-five league two nights a week all during the summer. We do indoor all through the winter and morning practices. We work at it all through the year, and that makes a difference. It’s why we are where we are."
Huge performances at the Penn Relays
New York had one of its finest showings in recent memory at the tradition-rich Penn Relays in Philadelphia.
The Warwick (Lititz, Pa.) boys 3,200-meter relay team ran the fastest high school time in the country this season by posting a 7:41.77 clocking at Franklin Field. The Championship of America-winning quartet consisted of Pierre Armand, Dan Ramirez, Dan Paez and Tim Luthin, who all clocked times between 1:55.1 and 1:55.8 to fend off Jamaica's Kingston College (7:43.50) and a Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda, Md.) (7:43.76) effort highlighted by Joseph Woiwode’s 1:51.4 anchor.
Warwick had qualified on Friday with a time of 7:46.02.
In other boys action, Arlington junior Jordan Yamouh won the pole vault in 15-5, and Paul Robeson junior Oneil Sandiford pulled a mild upset to win the high jump in 6-11½. On Friday, Jamaican prodigy Kemoy Campbell (8:20.14) fought off Wisconsin-bound Fayetteville-Manlius senior Alex Hatz (8:21.01) to win the 3,000 meters. Hatz's time is No. 4 on the all-time New York list.
In girls action, Villanova recruit Emily Lipari of Roslyn (Roslyn Heights, N.Y.) ran down Cornwall Central (New Windsor, N.Y.) junior Aisling Cuffe to win the girls 3,000 meters in 9:34.52. Cuffe was clocked in 9:36.84. The Benjamin Cardozo girls 1,600 relay squad ran a national season-best 3:41.62 to qualify first for Friday's Championship of America race, where they placed third in 3:42.27. Cardozo's 400 relay was sixth in the final in 0:46.25.
North Babylon (N.Y.) senior Vanessa Stewart won the shot put in ease with a throw of 47-5.25.
Boys lacrosse: Highly ranked teams suffer losses
* Kevin Interlicchio's hat trick sparked Yorktown to an 11-9 upset of Chaminade (Mineola, N.Y.), ranked third in Class A by the New York State Sportswriters Association. Interlicchio also recorded an assist for the Cornhuskers, and Remy Lieberman had two goals and an assist.
* Senior Jake Bratek scored five goals and Eric Dejohn added four as Jamesville-DeWitt, ranked No. 3 in Class B, earned a 13-11 win over Class A No. 7 Fairport (N.Y.). In the second game of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament, No. 7 Skaneateles (N.Y.) steamrolled No. 2 LaFayette 15-3 in Class C action as junior attackman Kevin Rice posted six goals and two assists.
* Will O'Donnell and Jake Weil scored twice apiece for John Jay (Cross River, N.Y.), ranked seventh in Class B, in a 6-5 win in OT over Class C No. 4 Corning East. Corning East, which plays Class A No. 4 Ithaca (N.Y.) this week, had rallied from two goals down in the fourth quarter.
John Schiano, who has written about high school sports in western and central New York for more than 25 years, covers New York for MaxPreps. He may be reached at email@example.com.