The ups and downs, highs and lows. Rivalries take games to a new level and it's what makes competition such a beautiful part of life
Some prefer the impressionist work of Monet, others the orchestral richness of Beethoven.
Me? I’ll take the sports rivalry.
That’s not a knock on art and music; there’s plenty to like about both. But when it comes to the sports rivalry, there is nothing more compelling, fascinating or thrilling. And on Wednesday evening at St. John Fisher College, one of the area’s best was on display.
It was the Section V Class B boys lacrosse championship game and the boys from Canandaigua Academy and Victor High were on the field. Victor won handily, 13-4, and quite honestly, it wasn’t the most exciting game to watch. The Blue Devils were in control from the start, but really, that’s the kicker.
Because less than one month ago, the Braves were in control and won the regular-season matchup between these sides.
That’s a small sample, of course, and even with Wednesday’s lopsided score, the intensity was not lacking. This is more than a game for these kids, and for the communities. It’s not just lacrosse team vs. lacrosse team, it’s community vs. community.
During the title game in front of a packed house at Fisher, it was evident how much this game meant. Every Victor goal, from 1 to 13, was cheered wildly. Every save, every faceoff won, every ground ball won was met with approval because it put whoever won that game-within-the-game one step closer to winning the overall game.
Coaches were pumped up, players were chirping and there even were a couple of unnecessary roughness calls. That’s not condoned, of course, but it goes to show how vested emotions are during these matchups.
And to be sure, this is not a rivalry that’s new. Wednesday’s emotions go back much farther than the May 6 Canandaigua win.
Generations of athletes are part of this intensity. My dad remembers playing against your dad, and my uncle coached against your grandfather.
Of course, with Victor’s growth in population in recent years, it’s changed the complexion of this rivalry in many sports. There was a time when Victor dominated across the board in sports like swimming, soccer and track and field or cross country.
But when it came to football and lacrosse, it was all Canandaigua. The day Victor beat Canandaigua in football at Evans Field in the 1990s to end 20-plus games of futility, the cherry and gray tears were just as prominent as the Victor celebrations worthy of a Section V champion.
And not long after that, Victor started its lacrosse program. So, not surprisingly, the Braves were rather dominant in winning the first six games between the schools. And even after Victor notched its first win over CA in boys lacrosse in 2006, CA went on to win six straight again and nine of 10.
Since 2014, though, the Blue Devils have won six of seven against Canandaigua.
It’s the ebb and flow nature of the sports rivalry. The frustrations the kids and parents from Canandaigua are feeling today are the same the Victor kids and parents felt for years before.
It’s great to watch the winners celebrate the success of such hard work. And it’s heartbreaking to see the tears and long faces of kids on the wrong side of the score. Because you like to think they worked just as hard, and hard work should be rewarded, not collared with a loss.
But this is what makes athletics and competition such a beautiful part of life. Yes, Xs and Os are a big part of the game, but even bigger is the heart, hustle, grit and determination. It’s a will to win, or a will to not lose, and doing every single thing you are physically capable of to come out on the right side of the score.
These are the intangibles that create the memories, good or bad. And they’re the principles that apply to any game between any teams.
But when you up the ante and take it to the level of a rivalry between two towns, there is nothing more spectacular.
Chavez is sports editor at the Daily Messenger. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me @MPN_bchavez