Section V girls lacrosse flexes impressive muscle with state tournament performance
The 2022 Section V girls lacrosse season was a long time coming.
Last spring? The season was played, but it was late and it ended after the Section V Tournament. The spring before that? It never got off the ground as we dealt with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s why 2022 was so special because win or lose, we had a full season for the first time since 2019. We had games, we had spectators, we had a Section V Tournament and after that, state championships.
It was nice to be back and speaking of back, let’s take a look at the 2022 season that just wrapped up last weekend.
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Herb Fitch Senior Games
Before we shift into reverse, let’s point to a final opportunity for local lacrosse this spring: The Herb Fitch Senior Games on Wednesday, which will be played at Victor High.
The Rochester Chapter of USA Lacrosse selected rosters for boys and girls games, which will be played at 6 p.m. (girls) and 8 p.m. (boys). More than 50 graduating seniors were nominated for each game. Tickets are $5 and students 18 or younger are admitted for free.
The games honor the memory of Hall of Famer Herbert T. Fitch, who was involved with lacrosse as a player, coach and official for more than 45 years after his playing career at Hobart College (1938-1942).
Class A recap
There hasn’t been a lot of variation in Class A when it comes to champions. Since 2010, there have been two different champs in Pittsford (8) and Penfield (3). The other constant? Rush-Henrietta has lost in three Class A finals.
That changed this spring when the Royal Comets finally broke through with a 9-3 win over Pittsford in the Section V final for their first title since 2008. R-H did it with an impressive balance on offense that had eight players in double figures for goals and an athletic midfield unit that won draws and outhustled opponents for ground balls to win possessions.
Pittsford and R-H have played each other in the last three Class A finals and that may not change anytime soon. R-H graduates just four players from this year’s team and Pittsford loses just five. Fairport usually figures in the mix here as well and the Raiders graduate just four after a season in which two freshmen and a sophomore were the top three scorers for the team.
Class B recap
Coming into 2022, defending champ Canandaigua and Victor figured to duke it out for the title and that’s what happened. Mercy and Brighton tried to make statements but the Braves and Blue Devils were simply too strong for the rest of the field.
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With 12 seniors on the roster, Victor was the favorite. Especially when eight of those 12 are committed to Division I NCAA schools and two more are heading to Division II schools. Coach Niki Frunzi corralled all the talent and molded it into a cohesive machine that more often than not overwhelmed opponents.
The Blue Devils won their postseason games by 14, 13, 4, 14, 8 and 9 goals and left no doubt after each one. They forced running clocks in their last three postseason games and the 14-5 win over Queensbury on Saturday gave the Blue Devils their first state title in school history.
Victor did so much so well this spring but if anything about the team stands out, it is the offensive threat of Eva Pronti. The Duke-bound senior was a double-edged sword in that her ability to drive from behind the cage commanded attention and often drew a double from opponents. If she found herself one-on-one, she continued that drive to score 67 goals. But if the double came, she pulled back to find any number of vertical cutters to hand out 85 assists and establish herself as one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in Section V, if not the state of New York.
The graduation hit for Victor is big but the Blue Devils will return in 2023 with one of the top players in Section V with Devin Livingston along with talent at the younger levels that some are saying will keep the Blue Devils on top for years to come.
But nothing in Class B will be handed out easily. Canandaigua, a rival that arguably gave Victor two of its toughest games in the regular season, graduates just four players and returns two of its top three scorers but will need to find someone to replace elite midfielder Abbey Herod.
Brighton graduates six players but has a top talent in freshman Ireland Mistretta and Mercy should have five players back who scored 20 or more goals this spring.
Class C recap
This has been the domain of Honeoye Falls-Lima for 10 straight seasons and with just four seniors graduating, an 11th straight title is not a stretch for 2023.
No question, the graduation losses are big with a couple of college-bound players but the Cougars have plenty of special talent coming back in eighth-grade attacker Shaye Angelo, junior defender Marlee Green, sophomore midfielder Paige Kidd and junior midfielder Clare Ruff, who handles most of HF-L’s draws with great success.
HF-L tests itself in the regular season with a brutal schedule and by the time the postseason rolls around, it’s rarely a contest. The Cougars won their playoff games by scores of 20-8 and 18-8 so if teams like Geneva and Newark/Midlakes are going to challenge for Class C supremacy anytime soon, there is a sizable gap to close.
Class D recap
The recipe was there for something fantastic after Palmyra-Macedon beat Aquinas, 12-8, for the 2021 title. So when the rematch unfolded for 2022, the revenge factor for Aquinas was clear but it wasn’t enough.
It did give us a good game, though. Pal-Mac won the rematch, 9-8, for its fifth straight title, an impressive feat considering the Raiders lost four big offensive contributors from the 2021 season and played most of this season with just two seniors (only one of them healthy).
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One of those seniors is Kylie Waeghe, who finished with a Section V-best 74 goals. Waeghe plays with a fire and drive that is unmatched and sets a solid example for the young Raiders she’s passing the torch to for 2023.
And that’s why Pal-Mac is likely to be at the top of Class D for year to come. Pal-Mac has six other players outside of Waeghe who scored in double figures and of those six, one is a sophomore, three are freshmen and one is an eighth-grader.
Aquinas is losing just three seniors to graduation and have Savannah Hinchcliffe (freshman) and Sienna Hinchcliffe (junior) coming back while Waterloo’s loss of 11 seniors isn’t as bad as it might look with four of its top six scorers coming back. Waterloo beat Pal-Mac during the regular season but Pal-Mac got its revenge in the Section V semifinals.
Shining at state tournament
Section V had one state champion in 2022 and really, it was no surprise to see Victor win it all. The Blue Devils played at an elite level, presenting the game as the beautiful, flowing and connected game that it can be.
And as fun as the offense was to watch, the Blue Devils had excellence all over the field. Kennedy Schottland made saves that robbed opponents of momentum and the defensive crew was relentless with its pressure that forced turnovers. But no matter how Victor got its transition game going, it was devastating. The speed and IQ of Devin Livingston was the catalyst and the ability of Victor up and down the field is why most opponents had little chance.
In Class A, it’s natural to wonder what could have been for Rush-Henrietta. The Royal Comets played Baldwinsville tough in the semifinals and had a set play with 13 seconds left that produced an open look where a goal would have forced overtime in a 7-6 game.
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But it didn’t work and Baldwinsville went on to win the Class A rather handily, 15-9, against Northport. So really, would an R-H win on Friday have opened the door for a state title?
HF-L rolled to a Class C semifinal win before having the tables turned in the championship game against Manhasset. But coach Kevin O’Connell had a legit question when he wondered what might have happened if his team from Friday had played on Saturday.
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Maybe the Cougars were out of gas after Friday’s win? Maybe it was a scheme from Manhasset that threw HF-L for a loop? Either way, O’Connell pointed out that his team on Saturday was different than the one on Friday with uncharacteristic mistakes and miscues.
In Class D, a young Pal-Mac team was overwhelmed by a Skaneateles team in Friday semifinals. And with just two seniors (one healthy) on his team, coach E.J. Burse knew it. So yes, there was disappointment but there also was a sense of acceptance, as if Burse and Raiders understood that Friday's tough loss might set the foundation for future success at the state level.
But if you’ve noticed a trend here, it’s that Section V had four teams in the state semifinals. In last week’s quarterfinal round, Section V swept Section VI by convincing margins that had running clocks in all four games.
So by all means, here’s a hearty applause for the girls lacrosse talent in Section V and an eager nod to see it all unfold again in 2023.
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Section V girls lacrosse flexes muscle at NY state tournament