Not only has Fayetteville-Manlius boys soccer roared out to a 5-0 start, it has done so with considerable style and history. Led by the high-scoring Pagano brothers (Cheeck and Nino), the Hornets have netted 26 goals in those games, knocking off reigning sectional Class A champion Jamesville-DeWitt and then, on a sparkling fall Monday afternoon, using three late goals, two of them less than 90 seconds apart, to defeat sectional Class AA champion Baldwinsville 3-1 and, in the process, hand its long-time head coach Jeff Hammond his 500th career victory. B’ville’s lone blemish has come against F-M, and the two sides aren’t done with each other, with a rematch set for October 30 to close the regular season.
The last two state Class B boys soccer champions squared off on October 10 and, within 30 seconds, Westhill was in front of Skaneateles thanks to a goal by Bo BenYehuda off a rebounds. BenYehuda wasn’t done, either, assisting on a second goal 10 minutes later and then sealing the 3-0 victory over the Lakers with a gorgeous direct free kick into the top right corner of the net. Westhill’s defense has also proven as stingy as it was in 2018, not allowing a goal in its first three games before it dealt with back-to-back games later this week against Syracuse Academy of Science and Mater Dei. Cazenovia, another strong Class B side, put in 14 goals during its first two wins over Tully and Bishop Grimes.
The big girls soccer game of the early season also had Fayetteville-Manlius against Baldwinsville, which took place Monday afternoon. The Bees were eager to get a shot at the 2019 state Class AA finalists it had beaten during that regular season, but here the Hornets’ defense shut down Hannah Mimas and, with Lauren Clark netting one goal and assisting on the other, F-M shut out B’ville 2-0. Through its 5-0 start, the Hornets had leaned heavily on the duo of Clark and freshman Morgan Goodman, who have netted 12 of the team’s 16 goals. Reigning state Class D champion Poland continued its great start, following a big win over Central Valley Academy by handling Dolgeville early this week to move to 4-0 overall.
But no girls soccer team in Central New York has put on a better show so far than the New Hartford Spartans. Consider that, in its first two games, the Spartans outscored Utica-Notre Dame and Camden a combined 25-0, and then it went to Marcellus and knocked off the usually powerful Mustangs 5-1 early this week to add a further impression. With games in the coming weeks against Whitesboro and Baldwinsville, New Hartford has more chances to silence any critics, adding to a lively group of Class A teams stepping out of Jamesville-DeWitt’s long shadow that includes Central Square, a 2019 sectional finalist already at 3-0 this season, and East Syracuse Minoa, also unbeaten through the early stages.
No one in field hockey has approached what Cicero-North Syracuse has done in its first five games. Not only has the Northstars claimed all five of its games, it has done so with shutouts, needing overtime to get past Cortland, fighting off Fayetteville-Manlius 1-0 and then knocking off defending sectional champion Baldwinsville 2-0 early this week, Jamie Snyder assisting on both goals off penalty corners. Whether the Northstars can keep this 300-minute shutout streak alive will depend on how the likes of F-M and B’ville respond in rematches later this month. Also credit to Clinton for a 3-0 start that includes the Warriors knocking off perennial power Camden 1-0 back in the October 5 season opener.
Most of the fall girls cross country teams are running now, limited to just league meets, for the most part. One quick impression was made by Cicero-North Syracuse’s girls in a meet against Jamesville-DeWitt and East Syracuse Minoa as three Northstars runners – Kate Putman, Marissa Navarra and Allison Newton – each broke the J-D course record. Of course, the powerhouse teams of Fayetteville-Manlius and Liverpool remain potent despite graduation losses, with the Hornets gaining a victory over Baldwinsville and the Warriors doing the same against West Genesee, this time with new runners at the forefront – Grace and Hannah Kaercher for the Hornets, Sydney Carlson for the Warriors.
When we switch to boys cross country, there was more of a possibility that, among the Class A sides, Fayetteville-Manlius could retreat a bit given graduation losses. Baldwinsville did give the Hornets a good battle in the season opener, but F-M still won 22-33 and will be favored in every subsequent meet, even against very strong sides at Liverpool and Cicero-North Syracuse. It figures to be close among Onondaga High School League teams as they battle in Wednesday-afternoon meets, with Skaneateles, Westhill and Cazenovia possessing strong teams, while Beaver River, a state champion in Class D a year ago, is one of the few Frontier League teams competing this fall since most decided to go to March.
You had quite a homestretch brewing in boys golf among the top three teams in the SCAC Metro division. Cicero-North Syracuse Blue, Fayetteville-Manlius and Baldwinsville all went 1-1 against each other, essentially creating a tie at the top, and two of those matches were decided by a single stroke. When studying the Onondaga High School League, Westhill sticks out, having won all 10 of its matches against league foes before a non-league defeat to Baldwinsville, and even in that match Anthony Maglisco was the low individual scorer. Cazenovia was impressive, too, dropping just one match to Westhill a year after it made a surprising run to the sectional fall team tournament championship.
More than any of the other fall sports that stayed, girls tennis found itself vulnerable to bad weather and plenty of matches were postponed. When they did play, though, Fayetteville-Manlius was its usual excellent self, while Baldwinsville held off West Genesee 4-3 in advance of its match against the Hornets. Auburn proved itself the strongest side in the SCAC Empire division largely on the basis of knocking off Jamesville-DeWitt 5-2 early this week, while in the Onondaga High School League another strong season from CBA seems in place, the Brothers having blanked Cazenovia 7-0, and a strong season is getting put together by the Marcellus Mustangs, who won its first trio of matches.
Yet another top boys basketball player is going the prep school route and this one hurts a bit more. Trey Autry was going to be a junior at Jamesville-DeWitt, but the son of SU legend and associate head coach Adrian Autry announced that he is moving to Western Reserve Academy in Ohio after helping the Red Rams win a sectional title in 2019 and reach the sectional finals last winter. In better news, one of the greatest players this area has ever produced, Greg Paulus, has just received a contract extension through 2025 as the head coach at Niagara University, where he took over last season just days before the Purple Eagles tipped off and did a solid job bringing stability to a program that needed it.