May 24, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Casey Greene, with one deft move, one well-timed dive and one perfectly-placed shot, helped deliver the Section III Class A championship the Fayetteville-Manlius boys lacrosse team has waited more than two decades to reclaim.
It took a fourth-quarter comeback, and no small amount of good fortune, too, but Green’s goal with 20.1 seconds left in regulation made the difference as the Hornets edged West Genesee 12-11 in Saturday’s sectional final at the Carrier Dome.
Not since 1993 had F-M won a sectional title, and it had undergone all kinds of near-misses in the years since, usually falling short at the Wildcats’ expense. So when a final WG shot crashed off the goal post and the clock ran out, the emotional release, from players and fans alike, was immense.
“It’s euphoria,” said Green. “The way we came back and rallied is unreal.”
Head coach Chris Kenneally said his team’s chemistry was a key to the way it rallied when it trailed by two goals at three different points in the final period.
“This group has a tremendous camaraderie and believe in each other,” he said. “This was a team effort.”
Green’s game-winner, and the sequence leading up to it, symbolized that effort. After John Cote’s goal tied the game, 11-11, with 1:53 left, WG had a chance to move in front, but Ryan McDonald’s shot slammed off the post to midfield, and F-M raced down the loose ball, calling a time-out.
During that time-out, said Kenneally, he told them to “work for a quality shot and not make a foolish play.”
Indeed, the Hornets patiently worked it around until Green, with the ball on the left side, was lined up against WG defender Alex Tripodi.
“I saw the time ticking down, and I had to make a move,” said Green.
Using his speed, Green moved past Tripodi, drew a penalty, but still managed to leap just short of the crease and fire a shot past goalie Matt Koziol and into the net.
Seconds later, the long title drought was over, as was an exhilarating championship game where both teams had leads and squandered them.
F-M’s defense was forced to work most of the first half, thanks to WG controlling most of the face-offs. Still, it took more than 11 minutes For WG to get on the board with Mike Fletcher’s goal.
By then, the Hornets were in front, as Luke Krizman converted early and, in a 12-second span, Cote assisted on Dylan Taylor-Wolford’s goal and then scored himself when a shot crashed off the post and then off the back of Koziol, trickling into the net.
The second quarter followed the first, in that WG again held the ball for most the period, and that persistent pressure paid off when Nick Cunningham converted twice in a 22-second span late in the half – first off a feed from David Procopio, then off an F-M turnover deep in its own end – to tie it at 3-3.
Yet despite not having the ball for much of the half, the Hornets pushed back in front, 4-3, when Krizman’s bounce shot eluded Koziol and went into the net 6.5 seconds before the break.
It took all of 41 seconds in the third quarter for WG to pull even again, 4-4, with Procopio finding the net off a feed from Tyler Brown. Procopio had helped the Wildcats win eight of 11 face-offs, the pressure eventually leading to the Wildcats’ first lead at 5-4 when Derek Farrell scored.
Just two minutes later, Luke Jordan answered, and 40 seconds after that it was Oliver putting the Hornets back in front, 6-5. That lead lasted just 50 seconds, though, as Brown and Mike Geremia hit on goals 28 seconds apart, giving WG a tenuous 7-6 lead with one period left.
Procopio’s goal 17 seconds into the fourth quarter doubled the Wildcats’ lead to 8-6, and an exchange of goals followed until Alex Leuze, with 3:35 left, tied the game at 10-10, a tie that Cunningham broke with a nifty move to the net for the go-ahead goal with 2:30 to play.
But F-M, as it turned out, would get the last – and important – surge when Cote and Green delivered their clutch goals, and the Hornets could look forward to its first state playoff game since 1993 when it plays Section IV champion Corning Wednesday at 3:30 at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium.
For now, though, it was a chance for the Hornets to savor a championship that was not just for this F-M team, but for those in the past who, no matter what they did, could not climb the last mountain and get a sectional title.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Kenneally. “But today we finished the job.”