With its depth compromised by injuries and some huge games that lay ahead, the Cicero-North Syracuse girls soccer team had the explanations lined up in case Tuesday's visit to archrival Liverpool did not go well.
But the Northstars didn't need any excuses -- just 80 seconds of overtime for Taylor D'Alfonso to strike twice and make the difference in a 2-0 victory over the Warriors that completed a regular-season sweep and moved CNS to a record of 7-3-1.
At the time of this game, five different CNS players were out due to injury. That included top midfielder Julianne Viviano and sweeper Brittany Myles, plus teammates Shelby Moteyunas, Katelyn Reilly and Tricia Williams.
Just the absence of Viviano and Myles had caused trouble for the Northstars in recent weeks, with road losses to Fayetteville-Manlius and West Genesee. And Liverpool provided the same danger, despite CNS beating them 3-1 on Sept. 6 when the squad was at close to full strength.
For the rematch, CNS and Liverpool had to endure a day-long rain that slowed things down. The two sides spent much of the first half stuck in neutral, unable to generate speed or many scoring chances, assuring a 0-0 verdict going to the locker room.
Gradually, the opportunities picked up in the second half. Liverpool had more possession of the ball and twice as many shots, yet few of them tested Chelsea Dunay too much as she finished with eight saves.
At the end of regulation, it was still 0-0, with 20 minutes of overtime set aside to see if anyone was going to convert.
D'Alfonso was glad to oblige. Unable to find much room against a tight Liverpool defense in the first 80 minutes, she needed just 2:07 of the first OT period to get open on the right side and crush a 20-yards shot past Liverpool goalie Courtney Johnson into the net.
The Warriors were reeling when, just 1:20 later, D'Alfonso again found room, this time at the point, and delivered a screaming shot off the crossbar that tumbled into the net. In the 16-plus minutes that followed, Liverpool could not provide an answer.
This was a needed boost for CNS, who won't know if it will have Viviano or Myles back in time for the playoffs. The Northstars meet AA favorite Baldwinsville next Tuesday night at Archie Hall Stadium.