Fayetteville-Manlius’ field hockey team celebrates its first Section III Class A championship in 24 years, earned last Saturday night with a 1-0 victory over Cicero-North Syracuse at Rome Free Academy Stadium as Gabriella Gorgoni got the game’s lone goal early in the first half.
True, the Fayetteville-Manlius field hockey team did not have to wait as long as East Syracuse-Minoa did for another Section III championship - it only seemed that way.
The Hornets, absent a title for nearly a quarter-century, finally saw that drought end Saturday night at Rome Free Academy Stadium when it defeated Cicero-North Syracuse 1-0 in the sectional Class A final.
As for ESM, after going 35 years between championships, it repeated as the rulers of the Class B ranks on that same RFA turf Saturday, the top-seeded Spartans fending off no. 2 seed Camden 2-1.
F-M's championship culminated a season-long saga where the Hornets (15-1-2), along with C-NS, had separated themselves from the rest of the Class A crowd - but not when they faced each other.
They first played Sept. 19, on F-M's turf, and it ended in a 1-1 draw. The Oct. 8 rematch at Bragman Stadium brought the Hornets its lone defeat of the season in a 2-1 decision, but it was far from a discouraging result.
From that point forward, the Hornets had rolled through all of its opposition, including a 3-0 shutout of Rome Free Academy in the Oct. 27 sectional semifinals. C-NS, meanwhile, had outscored Liverpool 5-3 in its semifinal to set up the decisive title-game showdown.
Cold temperatures and rain made for slick, tough conditions, and it soon became apparent that whoever would get the first goal would be in a valuable position.
F-M gained that position just 9:10 into the first half, when Gabriella Gorgoni's shot flew past C-NS goalie Hannah White. Though denied many opportunities for the rest of the first half, the Hornets clung to that one-goal edge.
As the second half wore on, C-NS attacked more, trying every conceivable formation. None of them worked, though, as F-M's sound defense turned away opportunities.