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CNS First high school girls lax state champions from CNY honored by Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame
8/1/2018 6:23 AM

The first girls lacrosse state champions from Section III didn't come from West Genesee, or Baldwinsville, or Fayetteville-Manlius, or Skaneateles or Christian Brothers Academy - area powerhouses all.

That honor goes to Cynthia Wetmore's teams at Cicero-North Syracuse in 1995 and 1996.

The Northstars won the Class A crown in the first two years of the state girls' tournament - going 40-1 in those seasons.

C-NS players and coaches from that era were announced today as this year's Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame 2018 Team of Honor in a brief ceremony today at the Hall of Fame's museum at Driver's Village in Cicero.

The team will be honored - along with this year's eight-member individual class - at the annual Hall of Fame dinner Nov. 5 at the OnCenter.

"It's such an honor, just seeing your faces brings such joy and memories," Wetmore told 13 former Northstars who showed up for Monday's announcement. "The energy in this room is really wonderful right now."

Wetmore started the C-NS program in 1987 as a club team, but it quickly grew into a local power.

The Northstars went 19-1 in 1995, defeating top-ranked Saratoga by two goals in the regional finals and downing previously undefeated Huntington, 8-7, for the title. The following season, C-NS went 21-0 and defeated Northport, 5-4, for the championship.

The 1997 C-NS team almost won a third state title, but the Northstars lost in the championship game. 

Asked what made the teams special, Wetmore said it was "believing in the fact that they could do anything. You could have all the talent in the world, but it's how you come together."

Kelly Filipkowski, who played attack for the teams, said the titles and trophies were fun, but she also recalled the hard work and fun she experienced with teammates in practices.

"Obviously, everyone always remembers the championships and the playoffs," said Filipkowski, now a psychology professor at Misericordia University near Wilkes-Barre, Pa. "But I remember one practice in mid-season. We were exhausted. We've been gutting it out. We had a tough schedule. It was raining and terrible and the (grass) fields were a mess. I think it started when somebody slipped and went careening though the mud and it was one of those days where that's what we ended up doing the rest of the day - just tackling each other in the mud, sliding in the mud, and just having a good time. Because we had been working so hard. That's what we needed."

Sarah Bamberger Kogut, who now lives in Burnt Hills, north of Schenectady, was one of nine former players who raised their hands when asked if they were or had been involved in coaching the sport.

Bamberger Kogut and her husband are both former lacrosse players and both of their daughters have picked up the sport.

"It's a lot of fun to play either offense or defense against them," she said.

Fourteen of the players from the C-NS teams in 1995 and 1996 went on to play college lacrosse. One other member played college basketball and another played field hockey.

Wetmore coached 11 seasons before leaving C-NS after the 1997 season. She spent 19 years at SUNY-Cortland, where she also led highly successful lacrosse and field hockey programs. She retired in 2016. Wetmore was joined at today's announcement by former assistants Bob Wehringer and Lionel Brown.

The Northstar teams are the fourth high school lacrosse program to earn a Team of Honor distinction from the Hall of Fame, joining the 1983-84 West Genesee boys, the 2006-09 Fayetteville-Manlius girls and 1967 LaFayette boys.

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