By all fair accounts, the Cicero-North Syracuse girls soccer team did enough to charge into the Section III Class AA playoffs with a long win streak.
The lone blemish in this late charge was last Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat to Baldwinsville at Archie Hall Stadium, a contest where the Northstars did close to everything right, and still got beat.
Both teams came into the game entered in the state rankings -the Bees at the no. 16 spot following the Liverpool defeat, the Northstars at no. 22, sporting its own 11-2 record despite starting just three seniors.
They spent the first 20 minutes of this game in a cautious mode, rarely challenging each other. But after C-NS's Stephanie Liberati made a sustained run to the net and pushed a close, running shot wide, the action picked up on both ends.
In particular, Liberati and her fellow forward, Hanna Haven, would find open space behind the Bees' defenders and find their way toward Hingre on a regular basis.
But B’ville goalie Jaclyn Hingre was ready. The sophomore goalie stopped Haven on consecutive point-blank chances in the 28th minute, ranging out of the net to meet the shot before it slipped past her.
Several more chances on both ends followed for the rest of the half. Just 1:54 before the break, Emma Firenze, working down the left side, crossed to the middle, where Cassidy Bruen settled the ball and flicked it past C-NS goalie Alyssa Jim to put her side in front.
Now it was the Bees' task to protect that one-goal margin. Despite all of the defenders' work, Liberati and Haven kept firing away. In the 58th minute, Liberati crushed a shot off the left post that went straight to Haven, who again shot - and again got stopped by Hingre.
Other than a free kick that Jade Sargeant hit off the crossbar, the Bees rarely had opportunities to get an insurance goal, thanks to an effective C-NS defense that covered a lot of territory to prevent Firenze and her teammates from getting to close.