Camillus It is true that the Fayetteville-Manlius is defending the Section III Class AA title it shared with Baldwinsville one season ago.
But the Hornets have not advanced to the state tournament since 2005, and despite a large roster turnover, head coach Jeff Hammond and his squad badly want to end that drought.
Absent departed starters like Tyler Forbes, Kyle Lunney, Mike Zazzara and Ken Chapman, F-M began a new campaign Wednesday by going to Camillus and putting together a 3-0 victory over West Genesee.
As with the Hornets, WG needed to replace several key players from last year's squad, none more important than Stefanos Stamoulacatos, who has already made an impact playing as a true freshman at Syracuse University.
And the Hornets do have returnees at key spots, from forwards Aaron Epling and Brandon Murray to defender Sam Donato. All proved effective against the Wildcats.
Only at one time did F-M have a serious scare. In the 15th minute, with the game still 0-0, a Wildcat free kickrose over the head of goalie, Jim Brady but a Hornets defender alertly kicked the ball away from the goal line.
From there, F-M steadily built up its attack, missing on a couple of point-blank looks before finally converting less than three minutes before halftime. Aaron Eppling got an open point-blank shot, and though WG goalie Ryan Homeyer saved it, the rebound came out to Dante Pavone, who put it home.
Though the Wildcats kept it at 1-0 for a long portion of the second half, in the 55th minute Epling took a poor clearance pass and hit a hard left-footed shot into the top left corner of the net. Six minutes later, a series of deft passes culminated with sophomore Tyson Tressness finding Tyler Snow for an easy goal.