Fayetteville-Manlius midfielder Will Gottheld (11) puts himself in position to head the ball away from a group of Baldwinsville players during last Tuesday night’s game at Swan Pond. The Hornets won this battle of state-ranked, undefeated sides, defeating the Bees 2-1.
As the Fayetteville-Manlius boys soccer team bolted to a 7-0 start and Baldwinsville nearly matched them by starting 6-0, the importance of their first head-to-head encounter only grew.
And when it finally arrived Tuesday night at Swan Pond, the Hornets proved quite ready for the task, scoring twice in the game’s first 12 minutes and riding that outburst all the way to a 2-1 victory over the Bees.
F-M, no. 12 in the latest state Class AA rankings, was playing its fourth game in eight days, and also had a handful of key players, including defender Nate Donella and midfielder Corey Gallagher, out of the lineup.
Yet that didn’t seem to affect the Hornets one bit, for it attacked hard from the outset and, 3:35 into the game, took a 1-0 lead when Hunter Knutsen’s corner kick was deflected in by Riley Burke.
Even with the Bees making a series of runs, F-M kept pushing and, in the 12th minute, doubled its advantage, again with Knutsen as the catalyst as his curving pass from the left side was pushed by Noah Craig past Bees goalie Donovan Moore.
B’ville would settle down and, by the portion of the first half, was putting heavy pressure on the Hornets’ net. But the defense shut down the Bees’ top threat, Brandon Mimas, who entered the night with a league-best 12 goals.
Even when there were set pieces such as corner kicks or free kicks, B’ville could do little with them, thwarted by Ethan Pinsky, Noah Chiles and the back line, while sophomore goalie Chris Szidat made 10 saves.
Try as it could, F-M couldn’t add to its 2-0 lead, with Moore making 12 saves, including a diving stop on a hard Alex Bychkov shot midway through the second half.
With 2:39 left, a handball inside the 18-yard box gave B’ville a penalty kick that D.J. Taylor converted. That ended the shutout, but the Hornets held on for its eighth straight win, knowing a rematch with the Bees at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium looms on Oct. 7.