For nearly a decade, the Cicero-North Syracuse girls lacrosse team searched for the kind of high level it found last week in the Section III Class A playoffs.
Simply put, the Northstars could not play as well as it did late in the first half of Tuesday's Class A quarterfinal at Bragman Stadium, where it bashed archrival Liverpool 17-7.
Few people associated with this game, on either wide, expected a rout. When they had met twice in the regular season, each side had won, at home, by a single goal -- CNS on April 19, Liverpool on May 18.
That second meeting took place just four days before the playoffs got underway. Everything about the way the Warriors played stuck in the Northstars' collective mind, and they applied those lessons in a way Liverpool hadn't seen before.
At first, it seemed like just another nail-biter between neighbors. They exchanged goals in the game's opening minutes, and Liverpool sneaked into a 3-2 lead when Jennifer VanderMeulen scored off a feed from Jordan Miller.
When Ashley Waldron answered with her own goal 8:14 into the first half, no one figured that, exactly 10 minutes later, it would be 9-3 in the Northstars' favor.
Tori Praino dominated the draws, keeping it in the Northstars' possession most of the time. Waldron, Morgan Silva and the rest of the CNS attack executed the team's transition game and turned it into art.
And every time Liverpool tried to clear it out, defenders like Molly Waggoner, Melissa Kane, Kelley Indivero and Chelsea Dunay would force turnovers, leading to more chances on the other end -- and more goals.
In fact, it ended up being an 8-0 run, only broken up by the Warriors when Tricia Hurley scored with 1:55 left in the half. By then, the Northstars had control, and would not let go.