Joe Mahr was not going to miss this time - and because he didn't, the Fayetteville-Manlius boys soccer team likely secured the top seed for the Section III Class AA playoffs.
Mahr's goal with 2:09 to play in regulation capped a stirring late comeback for the Hornets, ranked no. 6 in the latest state Class AA poll, as it beat state no. 10-ranked Baldwinsville 2-1 Wednesday night in front of a large crowd at Swan Pond.
The two powers, who met in last year's Class AA final (B'ville won, its third straight sectional crown) had already played this season, on Sept. 4 at the Chittenango Tournament, and F-M won that time 1-0. For a long while on this night, it appeared the rematch would end the same way, but in B'ville's favor.
Early on, the Bees had a majority of the possession, probing at the Hornets' net, but unable to convert. F-M's best chances to get on the board all came from Mahr, as twice he had point-blank looks at the net, only to slide one shot wide and hit the other too hard and off-target to the left.
So it was still 0-0 when, 1:47 before halftime, B'ville's Adam Lauko hit a perfectly timed cross from the right side that found Casey Murphy. Catching F-M goalie Ryan Carter out of position, Murphy poked a shot into the unoccupied net, and the Bees led 1-0, where it stayed at halftime.
It got more physical early in the second half, F-M drawing a pair of yellow cards but, at the same time, keeping B'ville from adding to its lead. Defenders Dan Rutkowski, Alex Baynes and Mike Zazzara protected the net, and Mahr kept probing, too, including a well-hit header in the 46th minute that just flew wide.
Still, as regulation time wound down, B'ville clung to that 1-0 lead, forcing F-M to increase its pressure. It worked, as it spent more time near the Bees' goal, probed for chances - and broke through when, with 5:16 to play, Tyler Forbes fed the middle, where Brian Ward screamed a low shot past a diving Alex Bono just inside the right post.