MANLIUS, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – At the high school level, there are no fall sectionals or state championships, but if there were the F-M boys soccer team would make a deep run. The Hornets went undefeated at 11-0 this year and finished ranked third in the country by the United Soccer Coaches association.
A big part of that success is thanks to two brothers, and our latest Byrne Dairy and Deli NewsChannel 9 Athletes of the Week, Francesco and Antonino Pagano.
“Our chemistry is off the charts,” said Francesco, a F-M senior.
“Going into the season, all we wanted to do was make a statement,” said Antonino.
That statement was made.
Francesco finished the year with 18 goals and 6 assists while Antonino had 17 goals and 8 assists. But, its the work they did as younger kids that led them to where they are today.
“Every night in the backyard we were competing, our father would come out and have us do stuff that no one else was doing. Throughout the years we just kept competing against each other,” Francesco said.
“We always wanted to be better than each other,” said Antonino. “The competition was [at a] really high [level] between us and we just kept helping each other get better.”
They are only separated by a grade. Francesco, who also goes by Cicci (pronoucned Cheech), is a senior. Antonino, who also goes by Nino is only a junior. The way they developed made them a dangerous combination for every opponent they faced.
“Using my physical attributes more and him being the better dribbler, passer – we had to defend each other differently,” said Cicci. “It was a huge advantage to both of us having each other around.”
The two will be separated next year. Cicci is heading off to Syracuse where he will be playing with another local kid in Liverpool’s Jeorgio Kocevski.
“Our relationship is great on and off the field,” said Cicci. “It’s awesome that there’s two of us and hopefully my brother and hopefully there’s more kids from Syracuse. Hopefully we’re good role models for kids that are coming up.”
By this time next year, there could be three local kids gearing up to play for the Orange.
“It’s just crazy. When we were younger, we used to dream about it and now it’s a reality. It just motivates me more to keep working and get where he is now. Hopefully I do next year,” said Nino.
The Pagano brothers don’t want to stop at just the collegiate level either. They want to go to the next level as well.
“First our dream was to play at Syracuse and now it’s almost a reality and we’re hoping to play pro together,” says Nino.