SYRACUSE A day before the Fayetteville-Manlius boys soccer team was to face Cicero-North Syracuse in the Section III Class AA semifinal, the team spent a good part of its practice – nearly an hour - working on free kicks and other set pieces.
Hornets head coach Jeff Hammond said that specific players were part of the work, from Tyler Snow taking the kicks to the likes of Dante Pavone and Connor Treglia making the conversions.
That work certainly paid off.
When the Hornets took to the turf at Nottingham High School Wednesday night, it converted on two of those free kicks – with Snow, Pavone and Treglia doing the honors - and held on from there to defeat the top-seeded Northstars 2-1.
Now F-M, the no. 4 seed, will try and get its first outright sectional title since 2004 when it meets no. 2 seed Baldwinsville in the AA championship game Tuesday night at 7:15 at Liverpool High School Stadium. B’ville used a goal by Connor Lunduski late in regulation to oust no. 3 seed Liverpool 1-0 in the other semifinal.
The Hornets had lost to C-NS 2-1 in overtime back on Oct. 3, but that was before Chris Wang returned to F-M’s lineup from a broken collarbone that sidelined him most of the season, immediately augmenting the attack as he picked up four goals in two games, three of them in a 4-1 romp over defending champion Utica Proctor in the AA quarterfinals.
C-NS would do a solid job containing Wang throughout this game, but other Hornets would step up, starting with goalie Ben Obrist, who scrambled to stop Kyle Tracy’s close-up free kick in the 12th minute to keep the Northstars from getting in front.
A minute later, F-M got its own free kick on the right side. Snow, boosted by all the practice he had done on these set pieces, perfectly curved it toward the net high enough so that Pavone, in ideal position, could push a header past C-NS goalie Morgan Miller, giving the Hornets a 1-0 lead.