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Hornets Fall to West Genesee in Sectional Final

When West Genesee flexed its muscles in the second half of Wednesday’s Section III Class A boys lacrosse championship game, Fayetteville-Manlius began to search for the answer it would never find, leading it to a 12-10 loss that made for a disappointing end to Doug Madden’s first year as head coach.

Madden and the Hornets found ways to contain the Wildcats in the first half, and even had the 5-4 edge at intermission, but West Genesee turned it on once the third quarter hit, which was too much for the Hornets to handle and gave head coach Mike Messere, who is retiring at the end of the season, sectional title number 31.

F-M, which beat Baldwinsville, a team it had lost to twice in the regular season, in comeback fashion to clinch its spot in this huge matchup, struggled to protect its halftime lead, as it conceded eight goals in the second half, compared to the five it scored.

It fought, though, and refused to go down easily. Senior Chris Lubrino accepted the challenge of putting the team on his back and trying to find a way to pull it out, as he accounted for seven Hornet goals, scoring five and assisting two in his final high school game.

This is the end of the road for the Hornets, who finish with a record of 11-8. The Wildcats (16-2) advance to face Ithaca, the winner of Section IV, Saturday afternoon.

 

Bouncing Back from Rocky Start, F-M Clinches Spot in Sectional Final

Three fourth quarter goals from Jack Shanley put Fayetteville-Manlius in prime position to overcome the frustrating start and get the 8-7 win over Baldwinsville that reserved its spot in Wednesday’s sectional final at Cicero-North Syracuse, where it will face rival West Genesee.

Shanley’s late-game heroics put an exclamation point on a victory that saw the Hornets, who were eliminated from the playoffs by the Bees in 2017 and lost both regular season matchups this year,  completely turn the tides in the second half, and then the combination of a strong defense and Zak Van Valkenburg’s dominance at the X, where he won 17 of 18 face-offs, allowed them to pull through and cap off the win.

And he began to take over as soon as the final quarter started. Down 5-3 with 11 minutes to go, Shanley scored to get the Hornets within one, and then his teammate, Nick Papa, tied it at five with just over ten minutes left. After Baldwinsville scored to take the 6-5 lead, Shanley found Mike Howe to even things out again and then buried two straight to gain the 8-6 advantage that carried them the rest of the way.

After the game, reflecting the 5-1 halftime deficit and how it impacted he and his teammates, Shanley said. “I think the fact that we’ve been in that situation multiple times this year, and we knew we could beat them allowed us to play free.”

Because of its big lead, Baldwinsville came out  in the second half and played zone defense, which has been problemsome for the Hornets throughout the season, but it didn’t fluster them this time.  

Head coach Doug Madden pointed out how composed they were and said that he is “proud of their efforts and resilience.”

 

“The boys did not quit on each other or themselves,” he said. “There was no finger-pointing or poor body language or giving up. They hung in and chipped away.”

That idea of playing relaxed was one of the focal points of both players and coaches at halftime, the attackman says. “During halftime, we got together, as an offense, and just talked about being patient, having fun, and letting the game come to us,” Shanley said. “We did that and began to feed off of each other’s success.” 

But they began to flip the script even earlier than that.

The lockdown defense, led by Zak Conley, Ben Welling, Kyle Chiesa, and long stick midfielder Sam DiChristina, bounced back from a shaky first half with extraordinary third and fourth quarters and was as relentless as it can be without Sam Stratton, who is out for the year with a knee injury.

In the second half, DiChristina would immediately find the ball when it crossed the midfield line, and play the same way he has all season — poised, fast, strong, and express all of those attributes that all good lacrosse players have and are important when clearing the ball.  

Shanley said, although this win is exciting, F-M isn’t satisfied with what it has accomplished. “It feels awesome,” he said, “our goal all season’s been to win the sectional championship and to be playing on June 9 in the state championship.”

F-M Handles RFA, Moves on to Baldwinsville

The last time it took the field, Fayetteville-Manlius put on a clinic and beat Syracuse, 20-2. Five days later, it did the same, went out without mercy, and opened postseason play with a 19-3 home win over Rome Free Academy (8-9, 5-4).

Having the 39 goals in the past two games has put F-M (10-7, 5-5) prime position to show up in the Section III Class A semifinal against Baldwinsville, but besides the big win that saw Chris Lubrino tack on five goals and four assists despite only playing in the first half, the Hornets have a variety of things to get them ready for round three with the Bees.

Last year, when the two teams matched up with a spot in the sectional final at stake, it went down to the wire. After F-M’s Donovan Welsh had the game-winner waved off at the end of regulation, Baldwinsville rode the momentum and scored the goal that led to the 9-8 loss that ended the season for the Hornets and marked the beginning of their current three-game losing streak to the Bees.

In the regular season, the two hungry groups found themselves tangled up twice. At the beginning of the year, they battled from beginning to end, and Baldwinsville ended up sneaking away with a 8-7 win, and then about two weeks later, the Hornets were down, 10-9, to Baldwinsville with a minute left, pressured the ball to try to get one more possession, but ended up conceding another goal.

As head coach Doug Madden points out, the close battles with Baldwinsville along with the other close games F-M has been involved in has helped it improve and has prepared it for the playoff atmosphere.

He said that the fact that his team has been involved in important and meaningful games will be a important when it steps on Cicero-North Syracuse’s turf for the most important game of the year. He said the Hornets are more battle-tested than they have been, and the offense is flowing better than it was.

Madden said that all the way up until game-time and even throughout the game on Thursday, it is going to be important that the Hornets think about what didn’t go well in rounds one and two, and learn from it.

“We are going to review the first two games against Baldwinsville, (and) highlight our mistakes and what we did well,” Madden said.

He said that F-M has to focus on being the good team that it has become by just playing its game falling into Baldwinsville’s hands. It will be important that it executes all game, he said, but the head coach said that “making sure the boys know that they are a great team” is the most valuable responsibility of his.

Hornets Lose Key Piece, but Beat Syracuse in Regular Season Finale

Although its coaches thought it should have imposed its will a little sooner, Fayetteville-Manlius found a way to take over in the second quarter and won big against Syracuse on Senior Night.

The 20-2 victory was huge for the Hornets, as it snapped a two-game skid and was their seventh win in nine games. This is going to allow them to go into the postseason amped up from the fact that their offense has tons of potential when it’s on, and the defense can be competitive with anybody.

But it did have a hiccup that could change the trajectory of the season. As Sam Stratton scored his first career varsity goal, he suffered a knee injury, which has become a recent trend for the Hornets (9-7, 5-5). They were already without another starting defender, Zak Conley, and midfielder Will Gottheld.

Drew Reynolds, who got his first start of the year in Thursday night’s regular season finale, talked about his team and how it is going to deal with Stratton being out for the most important part of the year, and said that he feels that there are plenty of guys who are prepared to see more field time.

“Although we lost one of our defenders for the rest of the season,” he said, “I think our replacements have had plenty of game-time experience due to Coach (Brian) Concannon giving them the opportunities in big games, like West Genny and Baldwinsville.”

And he continued to be optimistic despite the injury to the Army commit and said that this win is more meaningful to the team than outsiders may think.

“Having our last win be our biggest win and only allowing two goals with our back-up defense is huge,” Reynolds said. “This lets us know that, against good teams, we have the ability to continuously score, make defensive stops, and still score at the end of games.”

The defense was the focus of head coach Doug Madden’s halftime talk. With his team up, 9-2, he challenged his defense and said that it had to try to hold Syracuse (5-11, 0-10) to four total goals.

F-M then went out to score eight goals in the third quarter, but the second quarter was when this one got out of hand and saw Jack Shanley have his biggest quarter of the season. He either scored or assisted five straight Hornet goals, which paved the way to his two-goal, four-assist night.

The Hornets are, now, awaiting the playoff schedule and seedings to come out, and Syracuse’s season ends here.

Hornets Lose to Victor Despite Convincing Start

A promising first quarter didn’t mean much to Fayetteville-Manlius when things unraveled in the second half and handed it a 8-4 home loss to Victor on Saturday.

After the Hornets opened with the 3-0 spurt in that first quarter, their offense disappeared and wasn’t able to bounce back at all. Their strong defense was able to keep the ship afloat for the time being, only allowing a goal in the second quarter, but after halftime, nothing seemed to go their way, as Victor scored seven goals to their one.

F-M (8-7, 4-5) didn’t get the kind of scoring that it has gotten in the past, either. Four different players scored, but for the first time this season, nobody had multiple goals, and that’s going to deny you of a win any day of the week.

The four players who scored for the Hornets were Tommy Farry, Nick Papa, Mikey Porter, and Jack Shanley.

They will try to end their two-game losing streak when they finish the regular season and host Syracuse on Tuesday.

F-M Falls to Rival West Genesee Despite Fast Start

When Fayetteville-Manlius scored with 4:02 left in the first half to expand its lead to 5-1, all it had to do was play the lockdown defense it had showcased up until that point and get to halftime, but it lost track of Max Rosa with 13.2 left and gave up the goal that turned this game around.

Instead of having all of the momentum heading into the break, F-M had most of it, which didn’t seem like a big deal, but the ounce that West Genesee was the highlight of head coach Mike Messere’s final regular season home game and ended up being the deal-breaker for F-M in this 9-8 loss.

The goal was the beginning of the 5-0, game-changing run that turned F-M’s 5-1 lead into its 6-5 deficit and essentially gave West Genesee all of the momentum heading into the most important part of the contest.

Nick Papa said that the run was just a result of the lack of focus on the F-M side and he and his teammates didn’t do what they needed to in order to seal the deal. “We were up at half,” Papa said. “I just thought we didn’t come out with a lot of energy in the third quarter.”

But the sluggish beginning to the second half wasn’t the only thing that plagued the Hornets in the third quarter.

With five minutes left in the quarter, the F-M sideline gasped after it saw senior midfielder Will Gottheld fall to the ground on a non-contact play and lay there in obvious pain. At that point, the run was already in third gear, but the sight of a teammate going down and getting helped off the field deflated the Hornets, and before anyone could comprehend what happened, the Wildcats scored two more.

Despite that, Gottheld’s team wasn’t going to helplessly watch its rival snap its six-game winning streak. Down 6-5, junior Zach Nestor evened things up for the Hornets with 2:06 left, and then, from 15 yards out, Nick Papa took on three defenders and gave the Hornets a 7-6 lead 57 seconds into the fourth.

Still, the fear of losing Gottheld, who scored two goals for the Hornets before the injury, was in the back of their minds, and it showed. The closer West Genesee got, the more pressure F-M felt, and the more the injury impacted its mentality.

The one-goal lead vanished in under 2:30, when West Genesee went on another 2-0 run that it hoped would frustrate the Hornets enough to knock them out of the game, but it wasn’t.

About a minute after F-M called a timeout to give its guys a breather, Jack Shanley manufactured a play that could have been huge in this rivalry. As he got pushed over, he shot and found the netting. That meant it was 8-8 with 4:46 left, and F-M was man-up with an opportunity to gain the control that it had early on.

Nonetheless, the Hornets couldn’t cash in during that penalty, and West Genesee scored shortly after it expired. The visitors had another chance to take advantage of the physicality of the Wildcats, but couldn’t follow through with another big goal.

When all was said and done, F-M’s head coach, Doug Madden, kept his team on the field for a few extra seconds, and told it to soak in the excitement that West Genesee and its crowd was expressing and use it as extra motivation in a possible postseason clash.

The Wildcats had two players with at least five points. Kevin Sheehan and Jack Howes celebrated their senior nights with four goals each. Sheehan also had two assists and then Howes had one as well.

Saturday, the Hornets look to get back in the win column when they host Victor. West Genesee is, now, awaiting for the playoff seeding to come out.

F-M Gathers Itself After Halftime, then Pulls Away from Syracuse

Eighty-five seconds into the second half, Chris Lubrino gave Fayetteville-Manlius a three-goal advantage and began an 8-1 run that leaked into the fourth quarter and guided it to the 15-7 road win over Syracuse.

It was just what the Hornets, who have now won six straight, needed at the time, as it gave them the hope that helped them believe they were going to show they were the much better boys lacrosse team despite the rough start that allowed Syracuse to compete with them in the first half.

That goal was number three of four for Lubrino, who has had a great season for the Hornets after having a limited role last year and says that it is now or never and he feels like he has to come through for his team as a captain.

“I think what has helped me not only become a better player, but a better leader this year is the fact that this is my senior year and, as a captain, I feel I should put all the effort I can into practices and games. With all that effort comes me playing with more energy and enthusiasm during games,” he said.

Lubrino’s goal was the first step to climbing out of the hole they dug for themselves, which is something the coaches alluded to at halftime.

For the most part, they suggested that the players talk it out amongst themselves, but assistant coach Eric Wood did say he wasn’t shocked by the slow start, considering they poured their heart, sweat, and tears into the win over Pittsford on Saturday, but they would have to just play like they are capable of in the second half.

After the game, Lubrino, who is attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the fall, spoke about the character of this team and how it contributed to the success in this game and throughout the six-game winning streak. He said his team is very motivated, confident, and truly believes that it can play with any other team, but knows it has to lock in because of the tough schedule.

Comparing this year’s team to last year’s, he said this one is better because it is more hungry, which leads to a better work ethic.

“I think we are different than last year because we know what it takes to have the kind of season we want, and it isn’t only skill,” Lubrino said. “We know the other half of a complete team is determination and how badly we want something. We know that if we add all those aspects up, we can beat anyone.”

But he wasn’t the only one with eye-opening stats. Nick Papa and Jack Shanley had three goals apiece for the Hornets. Syracuse’s Jack Kane and Connor Leonard both had hat tricks as well.

The Hornets (8-5, 4-4) visit West Genesee and look to extend the streak on Thursday, when they seek revenge for the 10-6 loss on April 24. Syracuse (5-9, 0-8) faces Cicero-North Syracuse on Friday.

Shanley and Hornets Stay Hot with Win Over Pittsford

Five minutes or so before halftime, Nick Papa was going in on goal and thought about taking the easy shot, but flipped it behind his head to a cutting Jack Shanley for a goal, giving Fayetteville-Manlius a temporary 4-3 lead that eventually turned into an 8-6 win over Pittsford.

Still, soon after that connection, it was a tie game again, as Pittsford rushed down the field and contacted the back of the net. And then, the two suburban boys lacrosse teams would exchange goals one more time before the Hornets (7-5, 3-4) locked down and scored the two straight goals that secured their fifth straight victory.

F-M, which has seemed to put the early-season struggles behind it, would allow Pittsford to creep within a goal with 10:36 left, but Chris Lubrino’s second goal of the day re-assured it that it was going to go back home with a great overall win.

The defense was as good as its been throughout the year. After having to scramble over the past few games, assistant and defensive coach Brian Concannon was able to field his top options in Zak Conley, Ben Welling, and Sam Stratton, who had an illness that kept him off the field against Liverpool and prevented him from starting at Cicero-North Syracuse.

They had just one penalty that forced them to be down a man and stood tall during that minute, not allowing a goal, which complemented that clutch offense.

Papa and Lubrino had big games, even if you discount that great assist from Papa in the second quarter. Overall, Papa had three goals and two assists, Shanley scored three goals, and Lubrino had two and one.

For Shanley, this was the fourth straight game of a hot streak that has made the Hornets much better and more dangerous. His hat trick makes it 15 points, nine goals and six assists, in that stretch.

He spoke about the terror he’s on. “I think what has allowed me to catch fire is the fact that we had a rough start to the season and I know my team needs me,” Shanley said. “The rough losses have left a little bit of a chip on, not only my shoulder, but I think the rest of the team’s as well.”

The junior, who is committed to Manhattan College, said that F-M can’t take anything for granted. “We need to compete to capitalize and come out on top,” he said, “the wins, now, mean more than ever.”

The Hornets will look to continue their win streak on Tuesday at Syracuse.

F-M Starts and Finishes as an Unit in Win Over C-NS

The sound of the final buzzer meant that Fayetteville-Manlius had officially beaten Cicero-North Syracuse, 11-5, and it was time to sprint to the goalkeeper.

But, though the Hornets have rushed their goalie many times before, it was different this time around. They were running out to celebrate not only the victory and the excitement it would typically bring along, but to also celebrate the save that Andrew Testani made in the closing seconds.

It was the first save of the season for Testani, who has had a limited role throughout this season and his career as a lacrosse player. He played in just a few games last season and hadn’t seen the field this year up until this point, which made this moment so special and one that he is going to remember for a long time.

However, it is the emotional roller coaster that will stick with him as he reflects on the save. He said that it will be hard to forget the jog out there and how he wondered if he was prepared, but the excitement of the whole thing is unforgettable.

“I felt like a child because I was so excited,” said Testani, who is going to Ithaca College this fall and playing football. “My favorite part was when the team came to get me at the end because that was such a cool feeling.”

Aside from the save that had the Hornets amped up and celebrating, there are a number of positive things that head coach Doug Madden and his assistants can take away from this contest.

In its fourth straight win, F-M (6-5, 3-4) played very well and showed that it has several talented lacrosse players, something that it has done since beating Christian Brothers Academy last weekend and throughout the hot streak.

On offense, the Hornets had many good looks at goal, but it was Nick Papa, Jack Shanley, and Chris Lubrino who carried the load, which has been the case throughout the year. They had seven goals among the three of them — Papa had three, and then Lubrino and Shanley had two apiece.

Although Shanley struggled to find his groove during the three-game losing streak that served as a precursor for this terror, it has come to him, which makes the offense even more difficult for teams to defend.

Instead of just having one player who is worthy of double-teaming, F-M has, at least, three guys who can win a one-on-one battle, and that’s going to be the thing that separates them from many teams.

Next up for F-M is Saturday afternoon’s game at Pittsford. C-NS (5-8, 2-6) plays again on Tuesday, when it visits Baldwinsville.