Through 14 contests, the Cicero-North Syracuse field hockey team had not suffered a blemish.
But on the brink of finishing off a perfect regular season, the Northstars were thwarted as Rome Free Academy knocked off the Northstars 1-0 last Saturday afternoon.
For much of the game, neither side was able to produce much. CNS had plenty of chances, but the Black Knights kept them out of the net as goalie Autumn Campau was able to make 10 saves.
Just as regulation was ending, RFA made a rare push, forcing a penalty corner. Out of it, Mackenzie Williams got open and, with 14 seconds left, fired a shot past Nicole Gillette into the net to give the Black Knights the win.
Prior to this, the Northstars had rarely allowed a goal all season, and again earned a shutout last Thursday night at Bragman Stadium, when it beat Fayetteville-Manlius 2-0.
Amid some of the season's toughest conditions, CNS and F-M played to a 0-0 first-half draw. When the rain abated, the Northstars' attack stepped up.
Katie Barbagallo was in the middle of the action. Not only did she get a goal, but Barbagallo also assisted Stephanie Sylvia on her scoring play. Maggie McDonald also earned an assist.
On the defensive side, Lucia Meola, Amanda Obrist, Katie Carrick and Allee Emmy stayed hot, limiting F-M to just two shots. The Hornets' goalie, Megan Tiso, kept her team in it with 12 saves.
The RFA defeat did not keep the Northstars from earning the top seed for the Class A playoffs. CNS will meet Baldwinsville or Fayetteville-Manlius in Friday's semifinal, with the winner to meet Liverpool or RFA in the final Nov. 1 at Bragman Stadium.