SYRACUSE Just when the Marcellus girls soccer team may have though it was pulling away from all the other Section III Class B contenders, Westhill changed those plans.
The Warriors reignited one of Central New York's best and most meaningful rivalries Tuesday night, rallying from an early deficit to knock off the undefeated, state no. 3-ranked Mustangs 2-1.
What made it more surprising was that, just three days earlier, Westhill had lost, 1-0, to Chittenango, taking 27 shots but unable to get anything past Bears goalie Sierra Shafer.
And now Marcellus, with a perfect 11-0 mark, loomed. Westhill had dragged the Mustangs to overtime in their first meeting Sept. 7, but lost 1-0 on Brielle Filtch's goal late in the second extra period.
Back then, the Mustangs had used its trademark possession game to gradually wear Westhill's defense down, something that Warriors head coach Lisa Dwyer said her team had to avoid in the rematch.
"We were thinking that if we let them possess the ball, they would kill us," Dwyer said.
It turns out that the Mustangs wouldn't wait until the late going to get on the board here. Just 5:15 into the game, freshman Madison Belvito crossed to the middle, and Lexy Bird put a header past a diving Sam Peebles.
Trailing 1-0, the Warriors did not get discouraged, and started to assert its own game plan, especially after Bird left the game with a shin injury (she would return later in the half).
Westhill probed with its attack, and while it did not get many shots, it did increase the pressure. Then, in the 25th minute, Lindsey Lippert, from 25 yards out, powered a shot that eluded Margaret Choroser and crashed into the top side of the net.
Newly confident, the Warriors continued to play well the rest of the half. Just 30 seconds before the horn, it earned a free kick and, from 40 yards out, Kelly Lippert lobbed it into the middle, where Maggie Tripodi poked it around Choroser for the go-ahead goal.