Cicero 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.