May 25, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For 46 minutes of Friday night’s Section III Class A semifinal at Bragman Stadium, it appeared that Liverpool simply could not match up with undefeated top seed Fayetteville-Manlius.
Then in less than two minutes, the Warriors almost made the most extraordinary comeback in the program’s entire history, erasing most of a five-goal deficit in a frantic late charge before the Hornets held on to prevail by a score of 10-9.
Liverpool was looking to knock out F-M in the semifinal round for the third year in a row. And 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.
From that high point, the Hornets cooled off, and Liverpool, for the bulk of the second half, probed for opportunities, but rarely could find the net and make the Hornets sweat.
So when Clay Arnold scored with 2:55 left to stretch F-M’s margin back to 10-5, it was only natural for F-M fans to start looking ahead to a final against West Genesee at the Carrier Dome. The Hornets’ players may have thought that way, too, and if so, that was a big mistake.
Refusing to let go of the Class A sectional crown it earned a year ago, Liverpool began its resurrection when Jamie Kuppel scored with 1:44 left. Then the Warriors won the ensuing face-off, and Peter Flood converted 24 seconds later, and suddenly it was 10-7.
Again, Liverpool gained the face-off. Again, it converted, and not only did Justin Renk’s goal make it 10-8 with 39.7 seconds to play, a Hornet penalty after the goal gave the Warriors a man-up situation and possession of the ball without a draw.
Peter Sterio took full advantage and, with 23.8 seconds left, fired it past Brian Bedell, cutting F-M’s once-healthy lead to one. Incredibly, the Warriors claimed the ensuing face-off and, in the waning seconds, had a chance to force overtime.
One more time, Liverpool worked the ball around, but Pulver forced a turnover, and the ball bounded toward midfield as the horn sounded and F-M could breathe again.
After a 24-hour weather postponement, the Warriors entered the post-season fray against no. 5 seed Corcoran in the opening round last Wednesday night at LHS Stadium, dominating the game’s middle stages to prevail 10-5 over the Cougars.
When the two teams first met April 30, Liverpool, caught in a mid-season slump, needed a late-game comeback and last-second goal from Peter Flood to pull it out 9-8.
The rematch saw Corcoran blank the Warriors in the first quarter, but not get away it only led 2-0. And once Liverpool’s attack got going in the second period, things turned around, the hosts moving in front 4-3 by the break.
During a decisive third quarter, the Warriors outscored Corcoran 5-1, and since it tried to slow things down, the Cougars found that it could not speed up and be effective against Liverpool’s stingy zone defense, anchored by Dominick Madonna, who stopped 13 of the 18 shots he faced.
Renk led the Warriors’ attack, with four goals and one assist. Kuppel managed a three-goal hat trick, while Flood scored twice and added an assist. Harry Sardella dished out three assists and Kendall Keahey added two assists as Sterio added a goal.