Having spent most of the night in quiet frustration, Cicero-North Syracuse girls soccer star Nicole Close reappeared at just the right moment to keep her team undefeated.
Close's goal with 4:19 left in the second overtime lifted the Northstars to a hard-fought, 2-1 win over Liverpool, the second time in less than a month that CNS has pulled off a win against its neighbor and biggest rival.
They had met on Sept. 8, and the Northstars' victory on that day began a downward spiral for the Warriors that saw it fall all the way to 2-6 before it earned wins over Corcoran and Rome Free Academy to break the skid.
With a new goalie (Noel Peck) still making the adjustment from defense, CNS made some early attacks, only to run into a revived Liverpool defense that, led by Carolyn Barry and Amanda Pollock, would contest anything the Northstars tried.
Despite all this, in the 34th minute, CNS pulled in front, 1-0, as Brittany Myles fed it to Julianne Viviano, and her low shot amid a scramble eluded Peck and found the net.
Early in the second half, Liverpool got back even as, in the 48th minute, Danielle Gannon launched a 25-yard shot from the point that flew into the top of the net, a great shot that even Chelsea Dunay couldn't stop.
Energized by this tying goal, the Warriors went all-out and controlled most of the play for the rest of regulation. It took the combined strength of senior defenders Lis Zuern, McKaye Neumeister and Missy Butz, plus Myles and Dunay (who finished with nine saves), to keep the game tied.
So they went to 20 minutes of overtime. Neither side could convert in the first OT, but Close was starting to find some room to operate, as she dribbled the ball and again drew defenders that had double-teamed her most of the night.
Midway through the second OT, CNS started to attack again. Then, from the right side, Rachel Geruso got the ball and crossed to the middle.
Breaking at just the right moment and forcing Peck out of her net, Close got just enough of a piece of the ball that it slid past Peck and slowly trickled home for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
CNS improved to 9-0-1 on the season with that win and will be at Oswego Friday afternoon.