When the Marcellus girls soccer team pulled off the rare feat of back-to-back state championships early this millennium, perhaps the players and coaches responsible for this dynasty felt, at the time, that it could not reach a greater pinnacle.
Now that has changed, and later this fall these Mustangs will stand alongside the likes of Breanna Stewart and Floyd Little as members of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.
It was announced on Monday that the 2003-04 Marcellus girls will receive the “Team of Honor” designation at the Hall of Fame’s annual dinner, set for Oct. 28 at the OnCenter.
Marcellus joins previous “Team of Honor” selections (the award goes back to 2006) that include national championship-winning cross country teams at Fayetteville-Manlius along with local legends like the 1983-84 boys lacrosse teams at West Genesee.
Prior to the 2003 season, Marcellus already had a long and rich legacy of championship soccer, including a girls state title earned in 1989, but under the direction of coach Laurie Updike, the Mustangs hit another level.
In that ’03 campaign, Marcellus posted a 23-1-1 record. A stingy defense produced 16 shutouts, five of them in seven post-season games as Updike was named state Class B Coach of the Year.
Led by the All-State junior tandem of forward Jenna Farneti and midfielder Jocie Jankowski, the Mustangs erased years of frustration in the Section III playoffs and went from there to the state tournaments, ultimately reaching the title game in Rochester, where it needed overtime to edge Oneonta 1-0 and claim the state title.
Farneti and Jankowski returned for 2004, joined by forward Amy Ware in garnering All-State honors. And Marcellus again put together a 23-1-1 season that resulted in a state championship.
Once it repeated as sectional champions and returned to the state final four, the drama came in the semifinals, where again Marcellus was pushed to overtime, this time by Long Island’s Babylon, and pulled out a 2-1 victory. The title game turned into a rout as the Mustangs handled Fredonia 6-0.
Finishing with more than 100 career goals at Marcellus, Farneti went on to Duquesne University. Ware went to Syracuse University, while Jankowski (Nazareth College), Candy Hofmann (SU), Alyssa MacLachlan (St. John Fisher) and Katie Zimmerman (Lynchburg) also played college soccer.
Updike remains the girls soccer coach at Marcellus and has led her team to numerous sectional and regional titles, plus berths in the state finals in 2010 and 2013. Hofmann is the Mustangs’ varsity assistant coach.
This year’s Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame ceremony not only inducts Marcellus, but also includes Stewart, the Cicero-North Syracuse great who went on to win four NCAA women’s basketball titles at Connecticut and a WNBA title with the Seattle Storm, among her many honors.
Little and his 1960s SU teammate, Pat Killorin, are also in the Class of 2019, along with three-time West Genesee state wrestling champion Dan Hunt, Bishop Ludden alum and top amateur golfer Mike Naton, long-time Major League Baseball pitcher Jason Grilli (Baldwinsville) and multi-sport star J.J. Grant (Liverpool).