For the Fayetteville-Manlius boys soccer team - especially the veterans that have spent as much as four seasons chasing the dream of a Section III Class AA championship - it really could end no other way.
To claim the title, the Hornets (17-0-1) will have to dethrone Baldwinsville, the reigning three-time champions, next Monday at Liverpool High School - a direct result of what happened Wednesday night in the AA semifinals, also played on Liverpool's new artificial turf.
Led by Anthony Restante, who put together a three-goal hat trick, F-M, the no. 1 seed, put away no. 5 seed West Genesee 3-1, the second time in as many games that a single Hornets player was responsible for all the goal-scoring. Joe Mahr got all four goals against Nottingham in the AA quarterfinals on Oct. 29.
Like Mahr, Restante is a senior, hungry to end F-M's title drought. And he didn't waste any time hurting the Wildcats, a team the Hornets needed a late rally and overtime to beat 2-1 back on Sept. 22.
Just 5:23 into the game, Haile Marr (who had both goals in that comeback win over the Wildcats) was double-teamed - but he found Restante streaking up the right side. Marr passed it to Restante who, in stride, ripped a shot past WG goalie Dylan Condon into the net.
Despite the Hornets dominating the flow of play and rarely letting the Wildcats get too many good opportunities, it remained 1-0 at halfitme, but once the break was over, Restante struck again.
Just 1:36 into the second half, on a play similar to the initial goal, Restante again moved down the right side and caught a well-timed pass, this time from Joe Mahr, and again beat Condon. Less than two minutes later, Restante tore through several Wildcat defenders and converted again to finish off his hat trick.