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
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
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
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.
P.S.: For those looking for a comparative reference of how
much faster the game has gotten — or for a chance to admire
the evolution of lacrosse fashion and video technology —
check out these highlights
of the 2013 New York
Class A final by Lax.com.