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Defense carries F-M lacrosse to state semifinals

Back line works hared in Hornets' win over Corning

— Little glory or fame is found on the defensive side of the ball in any sport, and lacrosse is no exception. Even though defenders work as much as anyone else, their labor is not reflected on the scoreboard, or is talked about with the same breathless excitement as feats on the other side of the field.

Yet sometimes a defense plays so well that its contributions cannot be ignored, and Fayetteville-Manlius provided a textbook example of this during Wednesday afternoon's 6-4 victory over Section IV champion Corning in the Class A regional final at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium.

Senior captain Jake Pulver, joined by Matt Stegemann and Gabe Neils, plus Jeff Martin, James Farrell and John Stone, along with a full complement of midfielders, had to spend large amounts of time concentrating on its own end against a Corning side determined to dictate the game's tempo.

For the most part, they succeeded, limiting the Hawks to two goals in each half and allowing the Hornets to protect its lead even though it did not score a goal in the last 28-plus minutes of the game.

"Our defense played great," said Pulver. "We hunkered down when the pressure was on us."

F-M head coach Chris Kenneally said his team's struggles on the attack, combined with turnovers, made things anxious, but that the defense made up for that anxiety to carry the team to victory.

Going in, part of the concern for F-M was how it would retain its focus and drive in the wake of ending its 21-year Section III title drought in that dramatic 12-11 win over West Genesee at the Carrier Dome four days earlier.

Kenneally said he wanted his players to enjoy the victory until Sunday, and then turn their focus to Corning. Pulver said that, scouting the Hawks, he saw that it would not be an easy match-up.

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