Tags: F-Mgirls soccer When the Fayetteville-Manlius girls soccer team stormed its way to the Section III Class AA championship a season ago, it marked the end of a 22-year quest to get back to the top, and caught many by surprise.But when the Hornets repeated as sectional champions Saturday by defeating West Genesee 3-0 at Liverpool High School Stadium, it was far less surprising – but still quite satisfying.Unlike last year’s rain-soaked final where it knocked off favored Baldwinsville, F-M got to bask in sunshine at game’s end as players received the championship medals and again claimed the sectional banner, the product of an impressive 17-1 campaign where an already good team reached a new level. Ostrander said that the game plan here against WG was the same as those first two occasions.“We played our same game, but capitalized on our chances,” he said.Patient throughout most of the first half, F-M mostly probed against a senior-heavy Wildcats defense, and had some good chances, only to get turned back by fine stops from WG goalkeeper Liz Croft.Finally, in the 32nd minute the Hornets put something together that no defender could stop. Terrific passes from Hartzheim and eighth-grader Morgan Goodman set up Hannah Knych for a one-timed low shot that found the net.F-M ably protected that one-goal lead deep into the second half, its back line of Haley Ingram, Laura Bonomo, Ryann Dauksza and Alora Miller never letting WG’s forwards find much space whenever they had the ball.Fittingly, it was Hartzheim offering a decisive blow with 12:39 left. Lined up for a free kick in the middle of the field, Hartzheim noticed that WG’s second goalie, Caitlin Mills, was at the right side of the net behind her wall of defenders, so she shot left – and drilled it home.“Anna steps up for us all the time,” said Ostrander.Lauren Clark added a third goal with 3:02 left, and F-M could now look forward to a second consecutive venture into the state Class AA tournament.In many ways, the pivotal moment of the sectional tournament came in last Wednesday’s semifinals at Central Square, where F-M saw no. 2 seed Baldwinsville, the only team to beat the Hornets this season, upended 2-0 by West Genesee.F-M faced the same challenge as the Bees, in that it had not played a game in a while – 11 days, to be precise. But though B’ville faltered, the Hornets did not, quickly going in front of no. 4 seed Cicero-North Syracuse and defeating the Northstars 3-1.Hartzheim and Knych would get F-M going, Hartzheim taking a pass from Clark and scoring less than four minutes into the game. Then Knych made it 2-0 before the midway point of the first half.Early in the second half, F-M got a further cushion when Knych, from 20 yards out, ripped a hard shot past C-NS goalie Avery Byrnes. The only goal was allowed when Sydney Mahr, whistled for a yellow card, had to leave the game and Ashley Evans’ free kick eluded Ingram.That proved the only goal the Hornets allowed in the sectional tournament, and now F-M goes after much more as next Saturday it will battle Section II champion Bethlehem in the regional final at Mechanicville. It’s a rematch of 2018, where the Eagles prevailed 2-0 to reach the state final four.One big difference for the Hornets this year, said Ostrander, is that it is far from content with what it has already accomplished.“The players see the sectional title as just a stepping stone,” he said. “Now, we want to go get a state title.”Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInRedditComment on this Story “It took a while to develop, but they believe in this program and care about themselves,” said Hornets head coach Brent Ostrander, who added that his players see each other as friends for life beyond the soccer field.Senior Anna Hartzheim said the pride in winning this sectional title was different than a season ago because the expectations were so much higher, but that no matter what, “two in a row is very special.”For sure, F-M did not take things for granted after West Genesee knocked off no. 2 seed B’ville 2-0 in last Wednesday’s semifinals. The Hornets remembered how the Wildcats had battled them hard in 2-1 and 1-0 decisions during the regular season.
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