Down by six goals late in the second half of last Saturday's Section III Class A semifinal at Marcellus High School, the Fayetteville-Manlius girls lacrosse team had a choice -- accept its sad fate against West Genesee, or battle to the end.
By choosing the latter, the Hornets put a supreme scare into the two-time defending state Class A champion Wildcats before finally exiting the stage with an 11-9 defeat that was both disappointing and exhilarating at the same time.
In both of their regular-season meetings (on April 7 and May 18), F-M had scared WG a bit, only to see the Wildcats pull away in the end. What made the third game different was that it was the Hornets who would make the late push.
The start proved costly, though. WG raced out to a 4-0 lead, thwarting F-M's attempts to slow down the game's tempo as Maria DiFato's pair of goals launched that early run.
Meg Keleher got the Hornets on the board at the 11:17 mark, and gradually the Hornets began to assert its own game, getting goals from Mollie Caputo and Morgan Axenfeld to close the gap to 5-3 late in the half.
Then came a crucial sequence. Taylor Robinson got open in front of the net with a shot to pull F-M within one -- but Nicole Greco made a superb save. Less than a minute later, WG's Karlyn Tupper scored, and the Hornets instead went to the break down 6-3.
Bre Hudgins made it worse with back-to-back goals early in the second half, and by the time Tupper landed her third goal with 9:58 left, F-M was down 11-5, and perhaps the Wildcats started thinking ahead to the sectional final.
If so, F-M made them pay for that presumption. Kelly Perry scored shortly after Tupper's tally, and Sarah Lux hit on a goal with 5:49 left, making it 11-7.