PITTSFORD — The players and teams change. Section V’s success rate against the Buffalo area in girls lacrosse does not.
The Rochester area swept Saturday’s Far West Regionals at Pittsford Sutherland, as Pittsford pounded Lancaster 19-3 in Class A, Victor downed Hamburg 23-9 in Class B and Honeoye Falls-Lima handled Lake Shore 12-7 in Class C to advance to Friday’s state tournament semifinals at SUNY Cortland. The same three schools advanced last year, too.
Victor (12-8) plays next at noon Friday against the downstate survivor of defending champion Eastport-South Manor and Garden City, which has won a state-record 13 titles. HF-L (12-8), a state semifinalist for the eighth time in nine years, plays Cold Spring Harbor or Mount Sinai at 2:30 p.m. Friday.
Brighton (2005) and Penn Yan (1998 and 2004) are the only Section V teams to win states.
“We’re extremely motivated. Last year was a really close game,” HF-L junior Caitlin Muir said about last year’s 8-5 semifinal loss to Mount Sinai, “and we’re coming back with a little bit of a fire under our butt because we want to win.”
It’s not like area teams haven’t gotten their chance.
Since the state lacrosse tournament started in 1995, the Rochester area is 55-1 against Section VI in the Far West Regionals. The only loss came in 2008 when Lancaster upset Rush-Henrietta, 14-11. But for as good as Section V is, it’s still a notch below teams from other lacrosse hotbeds, such as Long Island.
“We caught up to Central New York. We haven’t quite got Long Island and Maryland yet but we’re on the cusp,” said veteran HF-L coach Kevin O’Connell. “I think Buffalo’s just trailing us a little bit. For some reason, they just haven’t caught the (lacrosse) bug like we have. We’ve got the Relentless Hustle clubs that are getting kids playing. I think we have three clubs in Rochester and they’re just not there in Buffalo.”
Saturday’s Class C game was easily the most competitive. Muir led HF-L with five goals and sophomore Paige Smith played well in place of midfielder Maria Villanti, the Section V Tournament MVP who was moved back to defense because of an ankle injury.
Muir converted 15 seconds before halftime to make it 8-3, part of her run of five straight goals for her team. The HF-L lead was trimmed to 10-6 midway through the second half but Brittany Chamberlain scored off a pass from Muir with 11:48 remaining to make it 11-6 and Smith scored unassisted with 7:54 to go for a more comfortable 12-6 cushion.
“I tell you what,” O’Connell said, “this Lake Shore team was legit. They did a lot of good things.”
In Class B, Hamburg hung around for much of the first half with Victor, but then its three-headed attack of junior Kaci Messier and seniors Bridget Flynn and Emily Hawryschuk started to roar. Hawryschuk, an All-Greater Rochester pick who transferred to Victor this school year from Churchville-Chili, led the way with seven goals and three assists. Messier added six goals and three assists and Flynn had five goals and one assist. Hawryschuk is going to Syracuse, Flynn to Harvard and Messier has given a verbal commitment to Notre Dame.
The Blue Devils bumped what was just a 9-6 lead to 13-7 at halftime, as Messier owned draw controls, then got more aggressive on the attack. She scored four goals and assisted on another in a 5-0 stretch early in the second half that turned a 15-7 lead into a 20-7 cushion.
“I was upset with what was being called (by the officials),” Messier said. “I used that to motivate me to play even harder and work even harder against the other team.”
Added Victor coach Niki Frunzi: “They have learned that they have to adjust not only to situations but the refs, as well.”