Oct 29, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
In their own manners, Cicero-North Syracuse’s Marie Aloi and Liverpool’s Shelby Peck delivered the biggest goals of their field hockey careers.
As a result, the Northstars and Warriors will play for the Section III Class A championship, this after a pair of riveting semifinal games played Sunday night at LHS Stadium.
First, it was Aloi scoring late in regulation to push top seed C-NS past Rome Free Academy 3-2. A couple of hours later, it was Peck’s spectacular overtime goal that helped the no. 3 seed Warriors edge past no. 2 seed Fayetteville-Manlius in a 2-1 decision.
The irony about both of these contests was that, at least in the initial stages, there was little to indicate of the wild drama that would follow.
C-NS thought at first that it would run away from RFA. It took just 4:58 of game time for the Northstars to grab a 1-0 lead, as heavy pressure led to McKayla Roberts scoring off Megan Caveny’s feed.
Roberts wasn’t done, either, as at the 17:03 mark of the first half she rushed into the Black Knights’ end and, taking a pass from Kristi Thompson, pushed in her second goal.
Now up 2-0, C-NS started to relax – a big mistake, as it turned out. RFA began to attack with regularity, and while it didn’t produce anything for the rest of the first half, the pressure continued after the break, and Lindsey Nowicki converted 3:47 into the second half, putting the Black Knights on the board.
Fired up by that goal, RFA kept pushing, and minutes later, off a save made by C-NS goalie Hannah White, Janeene Yates fired the rebound into the box, and now it was tied, 2-2.
Only now did the Northstars settle down, on both ends. Though it took a while for the offense to revive its energy, the defense, anchored by Marina Pitonzo, Cassy Franklin and Emily Blidy, made sure RFA didn’t move out in front.
The Northstars started to probe in the Black Knight’s end in the late stages of regulation. And with 5:46 left, C-NS drew a penalty corner, and a series of passes left Aloi open, and she fired it past RFA goalie Reanna Zappavigna to put her side back in front.
Right to the end, the Northstars had to hang on, turning back two RFA penalty corners in the dying seconds to earn a trip to the finals – where its neighbors from Liverpool would be waiting.
Up against F-M, a team with which it split two regular-season meetings, the Warriors trudged through a 0-0 first half. Emma Lamison and Emily Burns both had great point-blank shots late in the half, but Hornets goalie Julie Hockenberger turned them away.
Just 39 seconds into the second half, though, the Warriors got a 1-0 lead as Lamison charged down the right side, passed to the middle – and saw Peck poke in the game’s first goal.
But the Warriors grew tentative after that play, and F-M sustained a long attack over the next 15-plus minutes. That paid off when Kayla O’Connor scored off a feed from Hilary O’Neil with 13:32 left, tying it 1-1.
Through the latter stages of regulation, both sides had chances to get the lead, but could not finish them off. Liverpool’s defenders turned back every F-M push, and goalie Megan Evangelista made some key stops.
In the seven-on-seven overtime period, the Warriors forced the action. Then, from midfield, Peck gained possession of the ball and, in open field, zoomed past multiple F-M defenders, drawing out Hockenberger, and then shooting the ball past her into the cage for the game-winner.
Having won on its home turf as the “visiting” team, Liverpool now faces a true road test, since the final against C-NS takes place Saturday at Bragman Stadium, which will also host the state final four on Nov. 16-17.