Nov 02, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Just as the sun dipped down on a cold Thursday night at West Genesee High School, the Fayetteville-Manlius boys soccer team began its battle against Cicero-North Syracuse in the Section III Class AA semifinals.
Three hours later, when Addison Straub’s penalty kick found the back of the net, the Hornets had beaten the Northstars and were bound for Tuesday night’s title game against top seed Baldwinsville.
What happened in between was several seasons of drama packed into an epic game that was, at times, boring, exciting, violent, exhilarating and exhausting, all in one breath.
The boring part came first. Neither side could mount a serious attack in a first half full of defensive domination. F-M’s back line of Bennett Sluis, Brian Murphy, Jim Dittmar and Seth Teplitsky did their best work here, never letting CNS utilize its front-line speed.
All that changed 20 seconds into the second half. When F-M goalkeeper Alex Cameron-Carter left the net to try to punch the shot away from his zone, it went right to Kenny Cooper, who blasted a 30-yard shot into the net, giving CNS a 1-0 edge.
This shook both teams out of the early lethargy, and the pace intensified. Often, CNS fouled to give F-M free kicks, which led to more physical play — and to the game’s pivotal moment.
In the 65th minute, after play was stopped, Mike Mastriano, arguably the Northstars’ best player, punched Alestalo after the whistle. A sideline official saw this, leading the main official to issue Mastriano a red card. This gave F-M an 11-on-10 advantage for the rest of the game.
Just two minutes later, Cameron-Carter collided with CNS junior Charles Haven in front of the net. While it didn’t look serious at first, Haven required outside medical attention due to a collapsed lung and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
Following a 30-minute delay, the game resumed, and F-M, with its man advantage, went all-out in a series of attacks, trying to draw even. With 3:50 left in regulation, that pressure paid off when Jim Forbes took the rebound of a free kick and fired it past CNS goalie Ryan Goettel.
So they went to sudden-death overtime. With two 15-minute extra periods, F-M had plenty of time to utilize its man advantage and end it.
Twice in the first OT, though, Goettel came up with diving stops on possible game-winning shots by Forbes, and with four minutes left, Peter Day didn’t follow through on a wide-open look at the net.
Given all that Goettel had done despite F-M’s long power play, the Hornets could have felt discouragement at the prospect of a shoot-out that would determine whether its season would continue.
However, Cameron-Carter would steal the spotlight. In CNS’s first two attempts, he forced Rick Goettel to hit his penalty kick wide, and then made a diving stop on Mike Mulcahy’s attempt.
Meanwhile, Chris Hartzheim and Mike Kutzer converted to put F-M in front. Day made it 3-0, and after Brian Romeo kept CNS alive, Straub put his shot past Ryan Goettel, and F-M, with a 4-1 decision in the shoot-out, was in the finals.
Baldwinsville beat Watertown 1-0 in the other semifinal and would be after its first-ever sectional title, while F-M would be in pursuit of its 23rd championship, by far the most of any Section III program.