Two neighbors, Jamesville-DeWitt and East Syracuse-Minoa, will battle for the Section III Class A girls soccer championship as the result of a pair of dramatic semifinal matches on Tuesday night.
The Red Rams, as the no. 2 seed, were expected to get there, and got past no. 3 seed Watertown 1-0 at Chittenango High School's turf.
On the other hand, the Spartans' surprising run as a no. 8 seed continued as it dethroned two-time defending champion Cortland in a penalty-kick shoot-out at Henninger High School's Sunnycrest Field after they played to a 0-0 draw.
Already, ESM had knocked off top seed Whitesboro in the quarterfinals in a 3-2 overtime game, propelled by Allyson Rossi's three-goal hat trick.
Cortland, if nothing else, was bent on making sure Rossi didn't find open space. Thus, throughout the night, the Purple Tigers' defense put two defenders on the ESM star, and it proved effective.
Meanwhile, the Spartans were forced to play lots of defense as Cortland owned most of the scoring opportunities. On two occasions, ESM caught breaks, as a possible Purple Tiger goal in the last minute of the first half got disallowed for a handball, and late in regulation a shot by Alexis Keeney crashed off the crossbar.
That it stayed 0-0 was a tribute to ESM's defense as Julie Maselli, Lauren Greiner, Olivia Chopskie and Kelsey Temple worked from beginning to end, making sure Cortland did not pull in front.
So through 80 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of overtime, neither side would score. Thus, a shoot-out, five penalty kicks per side, would decide who got to the finals.
Both of the stars - Cortland's Aubrey VanGorder and ESM's Rossi - converted in the first round. But in Cortland's second turn, Taylor Reynolds hit the shot well over the net, and Rachel DeVona put ESM in front.