Even with an undefeated mark, the Liverpool field hockey team knew that any match-up against Cicero-North Syracuse would be a tough one.
Sure enough, the Northstars brought its best game to Coyne Field on Friday afternoon, nearly snatching a huge, season-turning win before Madison Buckley helped rescue the Warriors with a hat trick in a 3-2 overtime victory.
This was the first meeting between Liverpool and CNS since last year's Section III Class A final, won by the Warriors 1-0 in overtime, and this chapter would prove just as exciting.
The Warriors seized the lead on Buckley's first goal, and that 1-0 margin held up until halftime. Somewhere in that mix, though, the Northstars found a flaw in Liverpool's defense and would spend the second half exploiting it.
Even though Buckley scored for a second time, CNS used goals by Amie Dolson and Sara Obrist (both unassisted) to pull even, 2-2, and Megan Wiacek was keeping her team in it with 11 saves. Liverpool goalie Tess Tracy, in her best effort of the season, had eight saves.
So they went again to the seven-on-seven OT session. And once again, Buckley came through, firing a shot past Wiacek to complete her hat trick and give the Warriors the win. Beth Lamison, Emily Burns and Meghan Abold all got credit for assists.
Liverpool and CNS arrived at this meeting from different directions, though both had beaten Watertown by healthy margins earlier in the week.
All the Warriors had done in last Monday's trip to Watertown was set a new season mark for goals in an 11-0 rout of the Cyclones.
Kayla DeAngelis, in particular, stood out, with a career-best five goals, plus two assists. Kathryn Albro had the first three-goal hat trick of her varsity career, with Buckley scoring twice. Maddie Chibert got a single goal as Lamison earned two assists and Angela Charles got an assist, too.
CNS, meanwhile, got the Cyclones at Bragman Stadium and won 4-0 on Wednesday night, taking 29 shots against Watertown's overmatched defense. Sammy Cirillo put in two goals, while Dolson and Lindsay Flanagan each scored once. Katie Kennedy got three assists.
The Northstars had just taken a 2-0 loss to Rome Free Academy last Monday night at RFA Stadium. Goals by Stacie Skidmore and Meg McCormick proved to be the difference, negating Wiacek's five saves.
In this week's action, Liverpool visits Auburn and Fayetteville-Manlius, while CNS comes home to face Baldwinsville and Cato-Meridian.