Nov 13, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
No one can be sure exactly what the Cicero-North Syracuse girls soccer team will do this weekend when it pursues the state Class AA championship at SUNY-Cortland.
Whatever it does, though, it will have a difficult time topping the comeback it pulled off during last Saturday’s AA regional final against state no. 1-ranked Shenendehowa at Broadalbin-Perth High School.
Behind by a goal, and with time beginning to wind down, CNS made two sensational charges, leading to the net — and leading to an improbable 2-1 win over the Plainswomen.
Shen was the reigning Section II champions, having just knocked off Niskayuna in a snow-filled sectional final on this same Broadalbin-Perth that wasn’t decided until overtime.
CNS, meanwhile, had waited a week since its Class AA final win over Liverpool to resume action, and came into the game with the kind of athleticism and talent that can win out over a long battle — something that would prove handy here.
Together, the Northstars and Plainswomen would meet in the exact same round as they had two years ago, when CNS, despite playing defense most of the way, pulled off a 1-0 surprise there and moved to the state semifinals before getting eliminated.
These two teams played through a scoreless first half, the tension building as it went along. Each side displayed strong defense, especially CNS, who covered for a lethargic attack by stopping a long string of Shen attacks to keep it scoreless.
So despite getting out-shot by a 2-1 ratio (16-8, to be exact), CNS still had it at 0-0, hoping its fortune would turn around.
Less than four minutes into the second half, Shen got on the board, as Devon Lutz placed a corner kick to the middle and Jackie Thibault headed it past Chelsea Dunay into the net.
For a while, it stayed 1-0, as Shen sank into a defensive mode that, by the 69-minute mark, looked like it would keep the Northstars bottled up.
But that was when Nicole Close, the unquestioned leader of the CNS attack, took over. With 10:54 left, Close’s well-time pass found Lis Zuern in stride, and Zuern went to the net.
Seeing all this happen, Shen goalkeeper Kim Ellsworth raced to the ball 35 yards out of the net. But before she could get a hold of it, Zuern poked the ball past her — and it rolled into the net, tying the game.
Recharged by that tally, CNS pushed a bit more, leading to more chances to avoid overtime. With three minutes left, off the same pay that worked earlier, Close took a pass from Julianne Viviano and drilled a shot into the net.
In a matter of minutes, the Northstars had gone from facing elimination to making big plays — and in turn, securing their tickets to the Cortland area.
On Friday at 9:30 a.m., the Northstars meet Sachem East, a Section XI school from Long Island, in the state semifinals. The winner plays Horace Greeley (Section I) or Greece Arcadia (Section V) in Saturday’s final at 9 a.m.