Absent a Section III title since 2006, the Manlius-Pebble Hill boys soccer team is close to ending that brief drought.
All the no. 1 seed Trojans need to do now is knock off defending champion Cooperstown in the Class C championship match, this after a tense pair of semifinals.
MPH had to subdue no. 5 seed Sauquoit Valley in its semifinal at Chittenango High School's turf, where Mike Kardjian's post-season heroics continued in a 1-0 victory over the Indians that was the 498th win for long-time head coach Don Ridall.
All through the opening minutes, the Indians attacked hard, with five quick shots, all of which missed the mark, plus a Baird Hansen chance where he just missed the net.
The game settled down and, though MPH continued to spend large amounts of time in Sauquoit's end, it remained 0-0 going into the break, and stayed scoreless deep into the second half.
Any time the Trojans got close, Indians goalie Evan Owens kept denying them, finishing with 20 saves and threatening to send the contest to overtime.
But with 10 minutes left in regulation, Kardjian struck again. He had put up two goals and two assists, all in the second half, to lead MPH past Bishop Grimes 4-0 in the quarterfinals. Now, he took a pass from Hansen and struck a low, spinning shot past a diving Owens into the net.
That proved the game-winner, and the Trojans could not look ahead to Cooperstown - who had to survive its own 1-0 semifinal against Thousand Islands to get this far.