As it went back into the cauldron of the Section III Class AA playoffs, the West Genesee girls soccer team had a chance to make serious impressions before the tournament got underway.
In a strange twist, the Wildcats would get that quality win, knocking off defending champion Cicero-North Syracuse 1-0, only to find out that it would have to meet the Northstars again on that same field in the playoffs six days later.
They were supposed to play on Thursday at North Syracuse Junior High School, but heavy rains pushed the start back 24 hours.
Once they got started on Friday, the contest quickly became a mud-filled struggle where both sides found it difficult to establish an attack.
WG would break through when Chelsea Kuss put home an unassisted goal in the first half. It was the only time either side would score.
Tough all game long, the Wildcats' defense would keep Nicole Close and her fellow CNS forwards from harassing the net too much. Still, Melissa Stevens had to make 11 saves to earn the shutout.
When the Class AA tournament pairings were announced, WG owned the no. 5 seed -- and CNS was the no. 4 seed. This means a rematch between the Wildcats and Northstars on that same NSJHS field Thursday night at 6:30 in the quarterfinal round.
At home last Tuesday night, WG stayed even with Fayetteville-Manlius, only to have an ill-timed foul make the difference in a 2-1 loss to the Hornets.
Both sides got on the board in the first half, as Kuss scored off a feed from Maggie Yackel, and Shannon McHugh answered for the Hornets.
It remained 1-1 until, in the 65th minute, the Wildcats were whistled for a foul inside its own 18-yard box.
F-M now got a penalty kick. Stevens, back in the goal after the injury she suffered against Liverpool on Sept. 30, tried to stop Tabitha Tice's shot -- but Tice put it in, and WG could not answer it.
This left the Wildcats with one more chance to get a big win, at CNS -- and it did, not imagining that it was just an appetizer for the rematch that lay ahead.