Chittenango Only on rare occasions in Tuesday night's Section III Class AA girls soccer semifinal at Chittenango High School did top-seeded Cicero-North Syracuse find the precise rhythms needed to make its attack blossom against no. 4 seed Fayetteville-Manlius.
But when it did, the results were stunning, as Reid Garner's pair of goals pushed the Northstars past the Hornets 2-0.
And it leads C-NS (15-2-1) to SUNY-Cortland Friday night for the sectional title game against no. 3 seed Baldwinsville (11-3-2), who blanked no. 2 seed Christian Brothers Academy by that same 2-0 margin in the other AA semifnial. Game time is at 6 p.m.
When the Northstars last saw F-M back on Sept. 21, it ended in a 0-0 draw amid wild, windy conditions. In the month since, the Hornets had improved plenty and, in the AA quarterfinals on Oct. 24, had knocked out two-time defending champion Liverpool 1-0 despite missing top scoring threat Alexis Muraco with a back injury.
Muraco was still out for this game, too, and during the early stages C-NS's defenders deftly broke up the Hornets' attacks, while F-M played solid defense, too, quickly recovering whenever the likes of Ariah Rosas or Stephanie Liberati made long runs.
The Hornets could do nothing, though, about what happened in the 27th minute. From the defensive side, Rosas picked off the ball and delivered a pass to Liberati, who streaked toward the net and, in mid-stride, found Garner, whose low shot sped right between the legs of F-M goalie Alex Lunderman and into the net.
On the other side, C-NS goalie Alyssa Jim made her best stop two minutes later, coming well out of the net to stop Sarah Olick-Sutphen's run before she could shoot. She also caught Emily Murray's 20-yard free kick right before halftime to preserve the Northstars' 1-0 edge.