It took nearly two months for the Baldwinsville girls soccer team to win 14 consecutive games and establish itself as the clear favorite to earn the Section III Class AA title for the second year in a row.
And it took one night, and one superb shot, to bring it all to a premature end.
On the eve of Halloween, the Bees suffered one of the most surprising defeats in the program's history, beaten 1-0 by no. 8 seed Auburn in Friday's Class AA quarterfinals as Laura Taylor's goal decided it.
B'ville wasn't even at home when all this took place. The midweek rain that drenched Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium rendered the turf unplayable, forcing B'ville to move its game back 24 hours -- and move it south, to Corcoran High School's artificial turf.
On the surface, the move didn't seem to matter much, since the Bees had a perfect mark against all sectional Class AA foes this autumn (the team's only loss coming to Rochester Mercy on Sept. 8) and had won at Auburn 2-0 in their first meeting on Oct. 9.
But the Maroons tried a different tact in the rematch, moving its leading scorer, Laura Taylor, back to the midfield in order to help out a defense that would keep the same starting quartet for the entire game.
Sure enough, B'ville had most of the chances, both in regulation and in overtime, as it used its deep pool of forwards and midfielders to spring every kind of attack.
Somehow, Auburn turned them all away, the defenders not wearing down and goalie Aubrey Campbell sensational as she recorded 13 saves.
They went through two 10-minute overtime periods without a resolution. During the sudden-death portion, Auburn won a free kick 25 yards from the net.
Taylor took the shot, which bounced on the turf, then eluded B'ville goalie Maggie Monnat and found the net, instantly ending the game -- and the Bees' season, too.
Despite the severe disappointment, B'ville can look forward to 2010, when Monnat, Emma Firenze, Jackie Firenze, Sarah Lindovski and Amanda Ingersoll lead the returning cast. Key seniors like Katie Gildemeyer, Amanda Wolgemuth, Ashley Squairs, Jamie Schmidt and Lauren Roberts will be missed, though.