With the annual change from winter to spring comes another annual rite -- the Fayetteville-Manlius boys lacrosse team setting out to end what has become a long and frustrating quest for a Section III Class A championship.
Ever since that last title was won, in 1993, the Hornets have seen all kinds of great teams and star players go through its system, then head off to further success in the college ranks.
But the sectional title has proven elusive, mostly because West Genesee has owned the crown the last eight years -- a streak extended in the 2009 finals when a fourth-quarter Wildcat rally left F-M on the losing side again.
Perhaps 2010 will be the year. A solid cast of returnees
is in place, and upon first glance, West Genesee could be caught, having lost its opener 16-8 to Jamesville-DeWitt.
As that was going on, the Hornets were taking on Whitesboro in its opener at Corcoran High School's turf, excelling on both sides of the ball in a 10-3 win over the Warriors.
Despite the cold, wet and windy conditions, F-M's attack did not show too much rust, steadily building a 6-2 halftime margin. As this went on, the Hornets' defense, with three new starters, shut down most of what Whitesboro tried to do, and returning goalie Stefan Basile recorded 10 saves.
Meanwhile, Matt Klepper set the offensive pace with three goals and two assists. Andrew Murphy found the net twice, with Ari Waffle, Mike O'Neil, Ryan Simmons and Jim Krizman landing single goals. Mike Kutzer joined Waffle in the assist column.
F-M's girls lacrosse team also opened Tuesday - but had a much bigger challenge. At Henninger's Sunnycrest Field, the Hornets needed overtime to squeak past Liverpool 14-13.
From the start, neither side could gain any kind of sustained advantage. One goal followed another, and by halftime F-M and Liverpool were in a 7-7 deadlock.