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Northstars reach state field hockey final for first time

To be sure, Cicero-North Syracuse's field hockey team had a sense of disappointment in the aftermath of its 3-0 defeat to Lakeland in last Saturday's state Class A title game at Alliance Bank Stadium.

But that feeling did not linger.

For the most part, the Northstars -- players, coaches and parents alike -- were awash with pride over the most successful season in the program's history, culminating in the team's first-ever appearance in a state title game.

"It's the best any of us could have asked for," said senior midfielder Melissa Kane. "This team has worked so hard for this."

As he held the silver-plated second-place plaque, head coach Pat Kennedy said he didn't mind the ending, either.

"Second place is not bad," he said. "I'm very proud of our girls. This (trophy) means a lot."

In the end, it took an undefeated, high-level group from Lakeland (Section I) full of college-bound stars to keep the Northstars from the summit.

Reaching that point was stressful enough. Each of the three post-season games leading up to the championship contest saw CNS prevail by a single goal, the outcome in doubt all the way to the final whistle.

It started Nov. 1, with the tough 2-1 win over Rome Free Academy in the Section III Class A final. Ten days later at RFA Stadium, CNS needed two overtimes to survive Niskayuna in yet another 2-1 decision in the regional finals.

This brought the Northstars back to its neighborhood, to Alliance Bank Stadium, and a state semifinal showdown last Friday with Section V champion Penfield, survivor of the western regional.

Again, CNS would inch ahead in the first half -- and again, the Northstars would need to hang on before claiming a 1-0 victory over the Patriots.

Both sides had their share of chances in the early going, working out the nerves of a big game before settling down.

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