In the first round of the Section III Class AA soccer playoffs, the Cicero-North Syracuse girls and Liverpool boys both had close calls - but both advanced to the quarterfinals.
It started on Tuesday night, when the girls Northstars, the no. 6 seed in AA, fought hard against no. 11 seed Rome Free Academy and made it past the Black Knights 2-1.
Rachel Bowles, the Northstars' leading scorer this season, appeared to send her team forward when she scored in the first half. However, CNS could not add to it, stymied by Black Knights goalie Rachel Noone as it only took a 1-0 lead to the break.
RFA then tied it on Leigh Shoemaker's goal in the second half. But CNS kept its poise and, with 10 minutes left, Stephanie Liberati beat Noone for what was eventually the game-winner. Miranda Tanner finished with six saves.
By winning, the Northstars (9-4-3) advanced to Thursday's quarterfinal at no. 3 seed Watertown - just as the CNS boys team, no. 3 in Class AA (it had a first-round bye), hosts those same Watertown Cyclones in its AA quarterfinal.
Moving to Wednesday night, the Liverpool boys soccer team, the no. 7 seed in Class AA, had a hard-fought opening-round game against no. 10 seed Utica Proctor last Wednesday night, which turned into a 1-0 decision.
Steadily, Liverpool attacked Proctor, waiting for a chance to go in front. It did so at the midway point of the first half, when Akinniyi Akinpelu passed to Leo Rubio near the net - and Rubio beat Adnan Pajzeteovic for the goal.
Though the Raiders would not allow anything more, it could not catch up, either. For the rest of the night, Liverpool's improving defense slammed shut any Proctor charge, and goalie Joe Gilbert only had to make four saves for the shutout.
On Friday night, Liverpool (10-5-1) tries to end the reign of no. 2 seed Baldwinsville, the reigning three-time Class AA champions, in the quarterfinal round. The girls Warriors, as the no. 4 seed in AA, have to wait until Saturday to play its quarterfinal against no. 5 seed West Genesee.