If the Cicero-North Syracuse girls soccer team wanted to choose a time where it could accept a defeat, it would be a week before the post-season got underway.
The Northstars' 14-game unbeaten streak halted last Thursday night, when the Auburn Maroons came to Taft Road and knocked off the hosts 3-1.
This was not a big upset, since Auburn entered the game with a 12-3 record. However, it marked the first time all season CNS had allowed three goals to anyone.
They played through the first half 0-0, but as the second half wore on, the Northstars' defense began to show some vulnerability -- something Auburn, a team with lots of speed on the front line, would exploit.
Jordan Pelc, Laura Taylor and Flannery Nangle each put shots past CNS goalkeeper Chelsea Dunay. Nicole Close would score for the Northstars, but most of the team's attacks ended in frustration, as Maroons goalkeeper Virginia Porten had 10 saves.
It didn't help that the game fell in the middle of a brutal final week of the regular season where the Northstars had to pass a brutal gauntlet of three fellow playoff teams, all of whom could sink CNS's championship dreams.
First, CNS played at Fayetteville-Manlius last Tuesday night, and in some respects was fortunate to escape Swan Pond with a 1-1 draw, just its second tie of the season (it tied CBA 1-1 back on Sept. 14).
Senior defender Missy Butz was out with an injury, so Alyssa Crystaldi filled in, while the expected grind of the week allowed coaches to sit Close in the first half.
Despite Close's absence, the Northstars took a 1-0 lead when, in the 16th minute, Taylor D'Alfonso took a right cross from her sister, Coreena, and headed the ball past F-M goalie Rachel D'Hollander.
F-M controlled the flow of play, though, and continued to do so in the second half. It nearly tied the game in the 48th minute, when Corine Ward's shot went off the right post and straddled the goal line before Chelsea Dunay could pick it up.