Nov 03, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Any Liverpool field hockey partisan would have to agree with the time-honored sports notion that it’s tough to beat anyone three times in a season.
And that’s especially true when that third game decides a Section III Class A championship.
Sure enough, Cicero-North Syracuse would push the Warriors into overtime on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Chittenango High School, only to have Jennifer VanderMeulen produce the winning shot in a 1-0 decision.
Early in the seven-on-seven overtime period, Liverpool drew a penalty corner. VanderMeulen was set to receive the pass, but the ball instead went to Beth Lamison, and momentary confusion ensued.
Lamison, seeing that there still was some time to pass, tapped the ball to VanderMeulen, and the Liverpool senior flung a shot past diving CNS goalie Nicole Gillette into the net, clinching the Warriors’ second consecutive sectional title.
Right from the time they first played this fall in a 4-3 overtime classic on Sept. 16 at Bragman Stadium, the sense was that Liverpool and CNS would end up meeting for the sectional title. Even as the Warriors prevailed again Oct. 13 at Coyne Field, the order held — and less than three weeks later, the two neighbors met one more time.
Quite unlike those meetings, though, the Warriors came out slow and uninspired, unable to mount a full attack in the first half as CNS defended well and made an occasional attack, too.
“We were sloppy and slow in the first half, and we weren’t awake,” said Liverpool head coach Kim Dominick. “(Soon enough) our players realized what was on the line and realized CNS wanted a championship, too.”
As it went to the second half 0-0, Liverpool began to organize itself, spending long periods of time in the Northstars’ end, probing for the one shot that could mean victory.
But CNS kept resisting, as defenders Ciera Lang, Sarah Wazenkewitz, Valerie Marr and Samantha Cirillo stayed tough. What’s more, Gillette enjoyed one of the best games of her career, earning 14 saves.
“We figured it was just a matter of time before we scored,” said Dominick. “But Nicole Gillette was phenomenal.”
Regulation ended 0-0, leading to the same seven-on-seven OT format that Liverpool used to beat CNS in their first meeting this fall. And it would have the same happy ending for Warrior partisans.
They had both reached the finals on Thursday night, in semifinal games at Homer High School pushed back 48 hours due to the wicked winter weather that hit early last week.
Liverpool used early goals in each half as the stepping stone to a 3-1 victory over no. 4 seed Rome Free Academy, while CNS took full advantage of Baldwinsville’s long break to strike early and earn a 2-0 victory over the Bees.
It took less than two minutes for Liverpool to get on the board against RFA, and it would strike again late in the half to take a 2-0 advantage to the break. Another goal just one minute into the second half all but wrapped up a place in the finals.
And the Warriors displayed nice balance, too, as Madison Buckley, Emma Lamison and Marybeth Madia took turns getting the goals. Buckley, Madia and Kayla DeAngelis each had assists, too, as Liverpool didn’t even need a point from VanderMeulen to win here.
Kayla Smith had RFA’s lone goal, in the second half, but the Black Knights couldn’t catch up as Mikey Meagher finished with six saves.
As for CNS, it had gone through a long layoff before its semifinal. But that didn’t compare to B’ville, who had not played for 16 days before taking the field for this semifinal game.
Sensing the Bees’ possible rust, the Northstars went right after them, forcing penalty corners and converting twice. Both times, Lindsay Flanagan earned the assists, as Alex Gale and Lucia Meola each got one goal.
For the rest of the game, as B’ville shook off that rust and put up a series of tough attacks, the Northstars’ defense remained solid. Gillette made 10 saves to give CNS one more shot at Liverpool — with a title at stake.
CNS lost, though, ending a 12-3-1 campaign where its only defeats came to the Warriors. Meola, Gale, Gillette and Katie Barbagallo depart, but a solid core of players will be back in 2009.
Liverpool isn’t done, though, as it goes to Vestal High School near Binghamton Saturday for the Class A regional finals, hoping to win and get back to Chittenango for next weekend’s state final four.