Cicero For 46 minutes of Friday night's Section III Class A semifinal, the Fayetteville-Manlius boys lacrosse team did all the good things - attack hard, play stout defense, stay physical and hunt down ground balls - that led to a perfect 16-0 regular-season mark and state no. 3 ranking.
Then in two terrifying minutes, the Hornets nearly threw the whole season away.
Liverpool, the defending sectional champions, erased most of a five-goal deficit in a frantic late charge before the Hornets held on to beat the Warriors 10-9 at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium.
The win helped F-M advance to Tuesday night's Class A final at the Carrier Dome, where it will battle long-time rival West Genesee, who needed its own last-second goal from Brady Hoose to edge past Baldwinsville 9-8 in the other semifinal.
F-M entered the post-season in a rare position - that of a favorite in the sectional tournament, something the Hornets have not won in 20 years. But after a bye straight into the semifinals, the Hornets had to face Liverpool, the same side that knocked F-M out of this same round in 2011 and 2012.
Even a 13-4 regular-season victory over the Warriors on April 23, where Kevin Lux scored 10 goals, could not ease the concerns F-M had about Liverpool, for it knew that the Warriors' zone defense would be difficult to solve again.
But for most of this playoff game, the Hornets were in total command. Lux scored less than two minutes into the game, and Jack Wilson made it 2-0 at the 3:10 mark.
After Jamie Kuppel's goal put Liverpool on the board, Ryan DaRin took over, the F-M midfielder hitting on three consecutive goals, sparking the Hornets as it stretched its lead to 6-1 by halftime.
For more than 25 minutes of game time, Josh Pulver, Jake Pulver, Ben Jeffery and the rest of F-M's defense kept the Warriors off the board. Then Jeffery, who had not scored a goal all season, made a rare charge into the offensive end and beat Dominick Madonna to make it 7-1 early in the third quarter.