Liverpool Accustomed to stopping the shots flying toward him, Alex Bono now faced the simple task of putting the ball in the net himself.
When he did, the Baldwinsville boys soccer team was on its way to the state Class AA tournament for the fifth year in a row, having survived a tense penalty-kick shoot-out with Fayetteville-Manlius in Monday night's Section III Class AA final at Liverpool High School Stadium.
"To win five (titles) in a row, when all the games are so close - somebody must be looking out for us," said B'ville head coach Tim Scheemaker.
Through 80 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of overtime, neither the Bees nor Hornets had found the net in a 0-0 stalemate. Thus, they were declared co-champions, and the winner of the shoot-out would determine who would advance.
F-M, for the shoot-out, sent out its top two offensive players, Tyler Forbes and Haile Marr, at the start, and both converted. Mike Guardino and Adam Lauko answered with successful shots, and it was 2-2 after two rounds.
Then Bono entered the fray, stopping Alex Baynes' attempt in the third round. After F-M goalie Kenny Chapman stuffed Ben Ramin's attempt, Brendan Murray went next for the Hornets, and he hit the ball over the net.
Trevor Pauldine's shot found the net, and B'ville led 3-2 with one round to go. Chapman, in full goalie gear, had to make his shot, and did so, but the Bees still had a chance to prevail.
That it was Bono taking the last shot only made sense. He had rescued B'ville in a similar shoot-out in the semifinals against Cicero-North Syracuse, making two saves around his own successful conversion to help his team advance to the finals.
Now he had a chance to win it again. Bono said that, unlike the guessing game that takes place on a penalty shot while playing in net, when it's your turn to shoot, "you just pick your spot and bury it."