Seven years since it had last won a Section III Class A title, the Cicero-North Syracuse field hockey team had a chance to break that drought and cap off a remarkable season.
Instead, the Northstars watched as Fayetteville-Manlius, absent a championship since 1989, stopped them 1-0 in last Saturday’s sectional Class A final at Rome Free Academy Stadium.
All season long, C-NS (13-2-3) and F-M (15-1-2) had battled at the top of the CNY Counties League. They first played Sept. 19, on F-M's turf, and it ended in a 1-1 draw. The Oct. 8 rematch at Bragman Stadium saw the Northstars give the Hornets its lone defeat of the season in a 2-1 decision.
Despite this 1-0-1 mark against F-M, C-NS had the no. 2 seed for the sectional tournament, and unleashed its offense in a 5-3 victory over defending champion Liverpool in the Oct. 27 sectional semifinals, just after F-M shut out Rome Free Academy 3-0 in the other semifinal.
Now they would settle the sectional title. Cold temperatures and rain made for slick, tough conditions on the RFA turf, and it soon became apparent that whoever would get the first goal would be in a valuable position.
C-NS could not get the scoring outburst it enjoyed against Liverpool. Instead, less than 10 minutes into the first half, F-M pushed, and Gabriella Gorgoni's shot flew past goalie Hannah White.
From there, White was rarely pressured the rest of the first half. And that trend continued into the second half as Emily Blidy, Alana Lorraine, Shannon Dengos, Marissa Felasco and the rest of C-NS’s back line minimized the Hornets’ opportunities.
Still, F-M stayed out in front. With time running low, C-NS attacked more, trying every conceivable formation and earning several penalty corners.
None of them worked, though. Hornets defenders Brooke Wilson, Anna Porter and Hannah Frank protected the cage, and when that didn't work, goalie Julie Hockenberger did her work, earning seven saves.
And with that, C-NS’s dream of competing in state playoff games on its home turf at Bragman Stadium dissipated as F-M advanced to face Shenendehowa in Saturday’s regional playoffs.
From this year’s 13-2-3 squad, seven seniors graduate, including Blidy, White, Lorraine, Maggie Kennedy, Elise Towers, Alexis Kane and Samantha Mallory. Many young players will need to step up all over the field if the Northstars want another shot at a sectional title in 2014.