No one would normally equate the Fayetteville-Manlius girls soccer team with an ability to shut down an opponent - especially one as accomplished and dangerous as defending Section III Class AA champion Christian Brothers Academy.
Yet that's exactly what the no. 7 seed Hornets did Thursday night at Alibrandi Stadium, showing up and offering first-rate resistance to the Brothers and pulling out a 1-0 victory, the only goal coming from Brenna Kincaid early in the second half as CBA, the no. 2 seed, saw its title reign came to an end.
What F-M had learned, in the course of playing CBA to a 2-2 draw back on Oct. 2 at Swan Pond, was that it had the capability of slowing down the Brothers' vaunted attack. It was just a matter of finding the right strategy for the playoff rematch - which the Hornets surely did.
From the opening kickoff onward, F-M neutralized the Brothers by preventing open space with its back line. That included double-teaming Alexis Koval, the Brothers' all-time leading scorer, every time she touched the ball.
Five players - defenders Mollie Caputo, Marilyn Farrell and Meghan Kingsley, plus midfielders Alessandra Armstrong and Morgan Same - allowed protection for goalie Nina Quigley and broke up all the Brothers' attacks.
At least for a half, that strategy proved quite effective, even as the Hornets sacrificed offensive opportunities. F-M's best early chance came in the 26th minute, when, off the deflection of a corner kick, Same had an open chance, only to hit it wide. They went to the break 0-0.
As the second half wore on, and the scoreless duel continued, the pressure continued to build. And F-M took full advantage mere seconds after Quigley broke up Koval's free kick attempt in the 47th minute.
Brenna Kincaid broke down the left side and caught a long pass at just the right place. Working her way around defender Jasmine Harrell, Kincaid fired a shot that eluded Courtney Henderson and found the right side of the net, putting F-M in front.