Jun 08, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Game after game, round after round, the Fayetteville-Manlius kept passing all of the tests thrown at them and, by doing so, shed a 21-year Section III Class A championship drought and made it all the way to the state finals.
Only there did the Hornets find an obstacle it could not climb over, in the form of Section VIII champion Massapequa, who did just about everything right in prevailing 16-2 Saturday at Hofstra University on Long Island.
Both teams were in search of their first-ever state title, but had got to the final in vastly different ways. While F-M had to rally three times and pull out a 10-9 overtime victory over Fairport in its state semifinal on Wednesday, Massapequa had run over unbeaten, state no. 1-ranked Niskayuna 23-9 that same afternoon.
Adding to the Chiefs’ advantage was that it was playing close to home, though F-M had traveled to Long Island on Friday morning and had plenty of time to practice at Hofstra and rest up for the program’s biggest game in more than two decades.
It took less than a minute for Massapequa to get on the board, and though Colton Oliver answered with a goal to tie it 1-1 midway through the first quarter, that would be as close as it would get.
The Chiefs made its first big surge late in the opening period, putting home three straight goals before Oliver found the net again to make it 4-2, with no one in F-M colors imagining that it would not get a goal the rest of the way.
Trailing 5-2 going to the second quarter, the Hornets’ defense, led by Jake Pulver, Gabe Neils and Matt Stegemann, did a tremendous job of containment the rest of the half, with Pulver silencing Georgetown-bound senior Craig Berge most of the day.
Berge’s lone goal came in the second quarter, where the Chiefs saw its goalie, Matt Valdini, turn back F-M on several occassions in order to take a 6-2 advantage to the break.
Eventually, the toll of Massapequa earning 17 of 21 face-offs, 47 of 65 ground balls and twice as many shots (37, to the Hornets’ 18) would be reflected on the scoreboard.
It was the Chiefs’ Ian Kirby offering the big blow, putting together a natural hat trick of three goals in a two-minute span late in the third quarter. F-M’s deficit stretched to 10-2, and Massapequa didn’t let up, adding six more unanswered goals in the final period.
Not only was Massapequa quick and skilled, it was deep. No less than 11 different players scored for the Chiefs, with Kirby and Nick Yevoli the only players to earn three goals.
F-M, meanwhile, pondered the end of its best season in a generation, where it went 18-4, finally got past West Genesee in an intense sectional final with Casey Green’s last-second goal, played superb defense to get past Vestal in regional play, and then leaned on Jack Wilson’s six goals to survive Fairport.
Now another superb senior class will depart, including Wilson, Green, Pulver, Neils, Stegemann, Oliver, Pat Quinlan, Alex Leuze and Luke Krizman, leaving the likes of Brian Charlamb, John Cote, Erik Badger and Dylan Taylor-Wolford the task of trying to defend the titles it won this spring.
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