In one action-packed Friday, three local boys soccer teams - one from Jamesville-DeWitt, another from Manlius-Pebble Hill, and a third from Fayetteville-Manilus - all entered the Section III playoff fray as no. 1 seeds, expected to excel.
And thanks to some brilliant individual performances, the Red Rams, Hornets and Trojans all moved ahead in their respective quarterifnals. J-D rode Zander El-Hindi to a 3-0 shutout of Whitesboro, while Mike Kardjian carried MPH past Bishop Grimes 4-0 and Joe Mahr took over in F-M's 4-1 conquest of Nottingham.
At J-D, which is still looking for its first-ever sectional championship (it lost in the finals to New Hartford in 2009), the top seed in Class A only guaranteed a bigger target. But it was in control from the start against Whitesboro, who needed a penalty-kick shoot-out win over Indian River just to get this far.
After a series of early attacks could not produce a goal, the Rams broke through in the 25th minute when El Hindi took a long pass from Pablo Martinez, sped up the right side and belted a hard shot past Warrior goalie Dave Abdou into the top left corner of the net, putting the hosts up 1-0.
For a long while, it remained a one-goal margin, and Whitesboro even put up some brief attacks in the second half that the J-D defense handled. Then El Hindi returned and, in the 58th minute, produced a deft mass to the middle that Jimmy Fazio put into the net when Abdou charged too far. Just three minutes later, El Hindi again took a strong pass from Martinez and again scored, this time on a low shot just inside the left post.
With the win, J-D moves on to face East Syracuse-Minoa in the Class A semifinals. Back on Thursday night, the no. 4 seed Spartans took full advantage of some early breaks and knocked out no. 5 seed Oneida by a score of 2-0.