When the Fayetteville-Manlius boys lacrosse team met Auburn on Friday afternoon, it completed a stretch where it had played seven times in 15 days, and by objective standards it had deserved some rest.
However, that rest became a lot less pleasant after the Maroons erased an early three-goal deficit and toppled the Hornets, 8-6, fully establishing itself as a contender for Section III Class A honors down the road.
Auburn arrived with a 6-1 record, its only defeat coming to Vestal, but it had not played anyone of F-M's caliber. And when the Hornets jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the game's opening minutes, all looked to be fine.
All that began to change, though, when the Hornets could not add to that margin and, instead, fell into an offensive that lasted more than two full periods.
When Mike O'Neil scored to make it 4-1 early in the second quarter, it was the Hornets' last goal for more than 25 minutes. Auburn slowed down the game's tempo and played tough, physical defense, gradually forcing F-M into mistakes and turnovers.
Meanwhile, the Maroons cut it to 4-2 at halftime, then used goals by Matt Hoey and Sean Hogan just nine seconds apart in the opening minute of the third quarter to tie it up, 4-4.
Continuing to frustrate, Auburn took a 5-4 edge on Hogan's second goal, and got it to 6-4 when Andrew Chadderdon converted with just 14 seconds left in the period.
It got to 7-4 before F-M's Justin DePalma ended the long drought, scoring off a turnover with 5:54 to play, plenty of time to catch up. But Auburn's defense resisted well again, and Bobby Brannigan's goal with 1:56 left iced it.
None of this was evident two nights earlier, when F-M traveled north to Oswego and humbled the Buccaneers in a big way, winning by a score of 16-5.