B'ville wins fourth consecutive boys soccer Class AA title

No amount of interpretation was required when the Baldwinsville boys soccer team collectively held up four fingers at the end of Monday night's 2-1 victory over Fayetteville-Manilus in the Section III Class AA finals at Liverpool High School.

After five long decades without a championship, the Bees had now claimed its fourth consecutive sectional title, and in the most dramatic way possible as Stefan Merchant notched the game-winning goal with 27.3 seconds left in regulation.

"It's unbelievable," said head coach Tim Scheemaker. "And it says a lot for the soccer community in Baldwinsville."

Many in that community filled the stands at Liverpool for this, the Bees' third sectional final against F-M in its four-year run. And it all came down to one fateful free kick as regulation time wound down.

From 40 yards out, and left of the net, Mike Guardino lobbed the free kick into a crowd of Bees and Hornets players in front of F-M goalkeeper Ryan Carter. Merchant, among that crowd, said he stood and watched as Alex Bono, the one-time goalie turned forward, got a piece of the ball and hit it toward him.

"Alex got a touch (on it)," said Merchant. "I fired and hit it as hard as I could."

Merchant did better than that, beating Carter as the ball tumbled into the net. Seconds later, the Bees had that fourth sectional title, and the fourth for a B'ville team in as many days following the successes in girls soccer, field hockey and football.

The situation for B'ville exactly mirrored 2009, where F-M won both regular-season meetings, but the Bees won the sectional final. Here, it had happened again, the Hornets squeaking out 1-0 and 2-1 victories in evenly played regular-season showdowns. Again, though, it would turn in the third and most important meeting.

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