On Saturday, the Christian Brothers Academy and Fayetteville-Manlius girls soccer teams will gather at SUNY-Cortland to decide the Section III Class AA title.
F-M has not won a sectional title since 1996, while CBA has gone four years since last claiming a championship, in 2005, while in the Class A ranks.
Regardless of what was going to happen, a new champion was going to emerge, brought together by what took place in last Wednesday's Class AA semifinals at Marcellus High School. In both instances, a favorite took out a pesky upstart.
CBA, even short-handed, had full command of its semifinal against no. 6 West Genesee, but needed a pair of goals late in regulation to put away the Wildcats 2-0. Right after that, F-M was more methodical against no. 8 seed Auburn, but beat the Maroons by that same 2-0 margin.
The Brothers' task against West Genesee (who had upset Liverpool 2-1 in the quarterfinals) was made tougher by the absence of Caitlin McConnell due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
But with Taylor Gait moved to the front to work alongside Alexis Koval and eighth-grader Eva Gordon taking a larger role, CBA still kept the Wildcats' defense occupied throughout night with a continuous series of attacks.
It took every bit of WG's resilience on the defensive side, plus great work in goal by Moriah Saidel, to keep the game 0-0 deep into the second half. Also, some luck got involved as three different CBA shots hit goal posts or crossbars.
The task appeared to get tougher for the Brothers when Koval briefly went to the sidelines with a leg cramp. But with 7:26 left, and Koval still watching, CBA finally put in the go-ahead goal as Gait set up Kara Modliszewski for a 20-yard shot that screamed past Saidel just inside the left post.