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Liverpool hockey takes last-second defeat to RFA

Kozikoski's 38 saves keep Warriors close all night

— Though it had gone through severe ups and downs in December, the Liverpool field hockey nearly started 2013 with a major high point.

The Warriors were on the brink of forcing overtime against undefeated, state Division I no. 2-ranked Rome Free Academy Thursday night at Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena, only to see it get away in a dramatic 3-2 defeat.

Going in, the Black Knights were 9-0, having won its last three games by single goals, including conquests of West Genesee and Syracuse.

Liverpool, by contrast, was 4-5-1, stuck in the Division II West cellar, but well-rested, as it had not played in 15 days, since a 6-1 defeat to Baldwinsville in this same building on Dec. 18.

Right away, the Warriors showed that it was not afraid of RFA, playing the visitors to a 1-1 first-period tie. Then the two sides battled through a scoreless second period, adding to the tension.

As with other opponents, Liverpool spent large portions of the game on its defensive end – but like before, eighth-grade goaltender Steven Kozikoski sparkled, eventually getting 38 saves on the night.

They exchanged goals again in the third period. Kody Gaulke had scored once and assisted on Dalton Horton’s tally, while Alex Bittel earned an assist on Gaulke’s goal. Drew DeBlasis and Mike Seifert had the Black Knights’ goals.

So it was 2-2 as regulation time wound down. RFA put together one more all-out attack, looking to avoid overtime, and with just five seconds left Nick Mecca slid a shot past Kozikoski into the net, giving the Black Knights its 10th straight win.

Again, Liverpool had proved it could match up with the best in Division I, something it hopes will lead to more success next Thursday night, when it tries to take down red-hot rival Cicero-North Syracuse two days after going north to play Watertown IHC.

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