If the Fayetteville-Manlius boys lacrosse team wants to win the Section III Class A title, it will have to do so by stepping past the long-time nemesis that has kept them from that crown for much of the last 16 years.
The Hornets and West Genesee are set to clash Friday night at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium for the crown the Wildcats have held since 2002.
What gives Hornets fans such high expectations for this particular final is the way it has zoomed past both of its playoff opponents to get this far.
In fact, the Class A bracket gave F-M a chance to avenge all of its one-goal defeats suffered in a three-game skid from May 12 to 19, starting with a 15-2 dismantling of CNS in the quarterfinals on May 30.
As the follow-up in last Wednesday's Class A semifinal at Bragman Stadium, F-M started slow, caught up quickly, then blitzed the no. 2 seed Cougars in the third quarter and roared to a 15-6 victory.
Even as Corcoran took an early 2-0 lead, a pattern was established. F-M defenders Alex Cameron-Carter, Jake Cooper and Max Cooper took turns to make sure that Corcoran star James Cathers did not burn them, the way he had so many other opponents this spring.
And it worked, in a big way. Cathers had just one goal and one assist, while Edmund Cathers and Derek Eccles also got just one goal apiece. Gradually, all the pressure put on them took a toll, as F-M would limit Corcoran to just a single goal in the last two periods. Stefan Basile, back in the net after missing the CNS game, stopped 10 of the 16 shots he faced.
Meanwhile, the Hornets' attack hummed, using a surge late in the first quarter to seize a 4-3 lead. Still up by one (6-5) at the break, F-M dominated the face-offs in the third period and attacked at will, putting up six unanswered goals to end the suspense.