There stood the Cicero-North Syracuse girls soccer team, a win away from earning the Section III Class AA championship for the second time in three years.
And just like in 2005, Liverpool was blocking that title path -- not as a long-established favorite, but as a reprogrammed upstart shaking off a mid-season crisis to become a force again.
They went at it Saturday night, on the turf at SUNY-Cortland -- and while most of the senior experience and recent momentum was on the Warriors' side, the better team on this night wore blue and white.
CNS is on top again, utilizing all of its talented parts to form a well-honed unit that systematically took out Liverpool in a 1-0 decision.
This marked the third time the Northstars had beaten the Warriors in 2007. Their first meeting on Sept. 8 began Liverpool's slide, while the Oct. 2 rematch, won by CNS in overtime, served as the catalyst for the Warriors' revival, as it would not lose again until this title game.
In sharp contrast to the opposition's roller-coaster behavior, CNS had remained a steady, relentless unit all year, and had particularly stepped up its defense in the playoffs, having not surrendered a goal in earlier rounds against Oswego and Auburn.
It also helped to stay at full strength and avoid injuries. While the Northstars entered the final at close to full strength, the Warriors were without star sophomore Gabby Racines, who tore her ACL in Liverpool's semifinal win over Baldwinsville.
So while the Warriors would put 10 senior starters in front of goalkeeper Noel Peck, it would not have Racines making frequent attacks on the CNS net.
Throughout the early stages, the Northstars probed and sent its forwards right into the heart of Liverpool's stout defense, seeing where it could make an impact.