Ward Melville vs. West Genny:
Does It Get Any Better?
As a Long Island boy who grew up in a rival district, I could not help but wax nostalgic seeing Ward Melville play and beat West Genesee for the New York state championship. The Patriots put a hurting on the Wildcats and earned their first title and No. 1 national ranking since 2000 with a 16-4 victory June 8 in Rochester.
Back on the Island, Ward Melville supporters celebrated at The Park Bench, a local pub. They posted photos on the team's Facebook page, which gives you vibes of the following you might find in a Texas football town.
That's where I found this gem: a video highlight package of the 1997 state championship game between Ward Melville and West Genesee.
All told, these two powerhouses have met six times in the state final, winning three apiece, and have combined for 23 championships — eight for the Patriots and 15 for the Wildcats.
Also spotted on the Facebook feed: this photo of former Patriots coach Joe Cuozzo (left) — a National Lacrosse Hall of Famer whose 747 career victories trail only West Genesee's Mike Messere (772) — enjoying the game alongside his longtime assistant Bill Martens.
These guys are legends in Ward Melville circles. And the ill will between Cuozzo and now-retiring Patriots coach Mike Hoppey, who replaced Cuozzo in a bumpy transition of power after the latter retired from teaching in 2005, appears to have subsided with time. In an interview for a story that will appear in the August edition of Lacrosse Magazine, Cuozzo told writer Mark Macyk he was happy for this year's coaching staff and that he addressed the team during its perfect season to say how much it meant to Ward Melville's extended lacrosse family.
All seems right again in this lacrosse-crazed community.