Northstars see AA state title slip away at wire

One moment, the Cicero-North Syracuse girls soccer team was primed for a celebration of its first-ever state championship.

The next moment, cheers and smiles had turned into tears and shock, as the Northstars tried to comprehend where it all went wrong.

Blame Greece Arcadia for the sudden mood swing. The Section V champion Titans tied the Northstars in the waning moments of regulation in last Saturday's state Class AA title game at SUNY-Cortland, then claimed a 2-1 victory in the last of four overtime periods.

For two days and 159 minutes of field time, all had gone right for CNS. It had blanked Sachem East 1-0 in Friday's semifinal round, and was on the brink of doing the same to Greece Arcadia, despite a steady stream of Titan attacks throughout the contest.

But with 51 seconds left in the final, Greece Arcadia's Erica Luedke tied it, and her teammate, Jessica Shufelt, put in the game-winner just 3:08 before the two sides would have been declared co-champions.

Just to reach this moment of extreme ecstasy that turned into extreme pain required a superlative effort by everyone on the CNS side.

Going into the state final four, the Northstars had every reason to feel like it could conquer the field. It had just rallied to beat state no. 1-ranked Shenendehowa 2-1 in a riveting regional final on Nov. 10 and would be playing on the same SUNY-Cortland turf where it had beaten Liverpool in the sectional finals earlier this month.

What's more, said head coach Jeremy Lenchert, the veterans on his team remembered how it felt in 2005 when CNS reached the state final four, only to lose a tense semifinal to North Rockland, and did not want to go home early this time around.

So on a chilly, wind-swept Friday morning, the Northstars went into battle against Sachem East, the Section XI champions from Suffolk County, Long Island.

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