As it raced to a 7-0 start and claimed the no. 10 spot in the state Class A rankings, the Fayetteville-Manlius boys lacrosse team patiently awaited its first major test, the place where it would find out whether its heart and courage matched its considerable skill level.
Based on Friday afternoon's 18-9 thumping of state no. 18-ranked Baldwinsville, the Hornets are still waiting for that examination.
Sharp and ready from the first whistle onward, F-M attacked with precision, defended with passion and did most things well in between, and even B'ville, who had started 6-1 against a tougher opening schedule, could not handle it.
Mike O'Neil set the tone. The Cornell-bound senior put the Hornets on the board 41 seconds into the game, then converted again at the 3:10 mark before assisting on Matt Klepper's goal late in the period.
For the game, O'Neil would earn three goals and three
assists, pacing a deep, well-balanced attack where several guys contributed. Klepper and Tim Beach stepped up for three goals, while Ari Waffle and Brendan Englert picked up two goals and two assists. Todd Webster had two goals and one assist as Mike Kutzer and Ryan Simmons each had one goal and two assists.
At one point late in the first half, F-M led 9-2, and it had as much to do with the way it defended as with the way it tormented B'ville freshman goalie Parker Ferrigan.
Between them, Bennett Sluis and Kevin Fletcher did a superb job containing the Bees' most dangerous player, Billy Ward, holding him to two goals, both in the second half. And any time a B'ville player did get a clean shot, goalie Stefan Basile was able to turn it away.
The margin never got closer than five goals (at 9-4) the entire second half. Goals by Beach and Englert in a 45-second span late in the period, plus a third tally from O'Neil, all but put things away.