One more time this autumn, the faithful gathered at Swan Pond to see if the Fayetteville-Manlius soccer teams could move ahead in the Section III Class AA playoffs.
Only one of them could.
In a hard-fought AA quarterfinal, the no. 3 seed F-M boys team got past no. 6 seed Liverpool 1-0, riding Shane Ramage's first-half goal for much of the night.
But the girls soccer Hornets, despite having a similar no. 3 seed, fell in the quarterfinal round for the third year in a row, beaten 2-0 by defending champion Cicero-North Syracuse.
Going into the playoffs, F-M did not lack for motivation on the boys side. Each of the last two years, the Hornets had lost the AA championship game in overtime -- to CNS in 2006, and to Baldwinsville in 2007.
And F-M drew a tough opening assignment in Liverpool, who had dismissed Corcoran 3-1 in last Wednesday's opening round.
For much of the first half, neither side could break the 0-0 deadlock. But in the 35th minute, Ramage got open and, off a pass from Brian Ward, launched a shot past Warriors goalkeeper Jacob Gyder.
From that point forward, F-M could not add to the margin, thanks to Gyder's nine saves. But the Hornets' defense, led by Ryan Duff, Jim Dittmar and Kevin Hennessy, did a superb job bottling up Liverpool's forwards, as goalkeeper Alex Cameron-Carter only had to make three saves.
Earlier that night, F-M's girls took its shot at CNS, who had struggled at times this season due to a wave of injuries, but had started to get healthy by playoff time. The two sides had played to a 2-2 draw just 10 days earlier at Archie Hall Stadium.
The Hornets and Northstars played to a 0-0 first-half deadlock, the defenses holding fast as both teams had lots of chances to score, but could not convert.