Face-offs were key for Fayetteville-Manlius when they came out a 10-6 home win over Auburn on the opening night of their season.
Zak Van Valkenburg gave F-M the momentum early in the game and was dominant when it came to face-offs, something that helped them get out to the fast start and dictate the pace of the contest in the opening quarter. In the first half, Van Valkenburg won 13 of 15 face-offs.
But, the game slowed down as it aged and Auburn was able to score three times in the second quarter, which was one thing that F-M wanted to avoid going into the game. Still, the hosts held their ground and added two goals to their lead in the second half.
The one bump in the road for F-M came early in the fourth quarter, when they had a delay of game penalty called against them and Auburn scored.
It wasn’t easy for anybody, though. From the start, it was obvious that the team with the most grit and mental toughness was going to win the game. The combination of cold weather and off-and-on rain disrupted and got in the way of F-M’s hurry-up offense and made it difficult to force Auburn out of their gameplan.
F-M’s defense found a way to contain Auburn. They fought for loose balls and occasionally stole possessions from the visitors.
As a team, F-M had three takeaways and collected 17 ground balls, but, as a unit, their defense scooped up ten of those. Defender Brett Barlow led the team in the category and dug up seven ground balls by himself.
And then his fellow defender, Tommy Angelicola, supported him. Angelicola’s tough defense allowed him to earn one takeaway. He also found a way to collect a trio of ground balls for the Hornets.
The senior behind them, goalkeeper Ryan Boshart, had a really good season opener. He was tested throughout the contest and recorded 11 saves.
Offensively, the Hornets were looking to get quality shots off, which is what head coach Chris Kenneally emphasized to his team before and during the game
They did that from the start and were consistently passing the ball upfield. Ball movement and movement without the ball allowed for open shots for the Hornets, who had six players find the goal.
Donovan Welsh led the way with four goals and an assist. His five points was the game-high and was a great sign for the Hornets.
Luke Burnam also had a multi-goal night. He scored twice and both goals were off of passes from midfielder Ryan Cicci. Cicci also found the back of the net once.
Other members of F-M’s midfield had good games to open the season as well. Seniors Luke Hamel and James Rettinger scored a goal apiece and then Nick Papa found the back of the net as well.