Jun 06, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
All the Fayetteville-Manlius boys lacrosse team wanted to do, just once, was to celebrate a Section III Class A championship instead of watching its biggest rival grab the crown for itself.
Instead, the Hornets’ 16-year championship drought lives for another year, perpetuated by West Genesee in an 11-9 verdict during last Friday’s exhilarating Class A final at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium.
Many different times on this night, F-M looked the part of a winner, playing stout defense, forcing turnovers, getting a spectacular five-goal effort from Matt Taylor, the program’s all-time leading scorer.
Yet at the end, when everything was on the line, it was the Wildcats stepping up and, through both conventional and unconventional means, earning its eighth consecutive sectional title.
No nerves were apparent in the early going. Taylor got F-M on the board 5:27 into the game, and Mike O’Neil followed less than a minute later, pushing the Hornets into an early 2-0 lead.
WG would tie it, only to see Taylor an Justin DePalma hit to make it 4-2. Again, the Wildcats came back, and with five different players scoring, led the Hornets 6-5 at the half.
Within a span of nine seconds, F-M rushed back in front 7-6 in the first minute of the third period, O’Neil and DePalma both converting. WG would shut the door the rest of the period, but it was 7-7 as they entered the final quarter.
Taylor, defended hard by Jack Conboy all night, found his way past Conboy and dove in for the go-ahead goal early in the final period.
John Glesener answered to tie it, 8-8, and Conor Regin pushed WG ahead 9-8 on his goal with 4:34 left — but Taylor returned, his fifth goal 49 seconds later making it 9-9, the game’s sixth tie.
When F-M won the ensuing face-off, it used its last time-out to set up a play. Seconds later, though, a bad pass caused a turnover.
Ike Hopper took the ball, then raced for the left side, chased by several defenders and watched closely by F-M goalie Stefan Basile. Then, to Basile’s utter shock, the ball was in the net, behind him, with just 3:18 left.
What had happened? Hopper had secretly given the ball to Glesener, who managed to hide it in his stick quietly while Glesener drew the defense and Basile toward him. With open space, Glesener flung the ball home, and when Conor Regin converted with 2:04 to play, WG had its winning margin.
As the final horn sounded, Basile went to the turf, crushed and feeling responsible for what had happened. All his teammates came to help him to his feet, a classy gesture.
F-M finished with a mark of 16-5, and will see 12 seniors depart, including Taylor, DePalma, Cameron-Carter, Poppleton, Ron Caputo, Jim Ditmer and both Cooper brothers. It will be up to the likes of Basile, Waffle and Matt O’Neil to chase that dream of an elusive sectional title.