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.”