When the Cicero-North Syracuse and Liverpool girls cross country teams face each other for the first time this spring at Bragman Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, they would do so having gone through similar early-season experiences, in terms of the number of close games they both played.
The difference, though, was that the Northstars had passed through those tests without a defeat, while the Warriors had not, having lost March 30 to Cazenovia as it took a 4-1 record into last Thursday’s showdown with Baldwinsville at Pelcher-Arcaro stadium.
For a half, all seemed to go well for Liverpool – and then everything fell apart in a 17-8 defeat, the margin quite stunning given that, in the first 25 minutes, the Warriors kept up with the Bees and even sneaked into a 7-6 lead.
Abby Hope had led that early charge, scoring three times for a hat trick. Brittany Halpin and Veronica Brancato netted two goals apiece, while Maia Henry had one goal and one assist. Megan Fitzpatrick had two assists and Krystyna Sterio added one assist.
Yet once the second half started, Liverpool went quiet and B’ville, controlling the draws, eventually wore the Warriors’ defense down. The end result was an 11-1 Bees spurt that turned an exciting game into a lopsided one.
Sara Goodwin and Hannah Johnson were at the forefront of that late charge for B’ville, Goodwin pouring in six goals and adding an assist as Johnson finished with five goals. Peyton Fleming fed both of them with four assists to go with her lone tally as Maria Henwood and Julia Pelcher each scored twice.
Before all this, Liverpool, flush with momentum after a come-from-behind 10-9 win at Carthage on April 8, had an easier time of it in last Tuesday’s game at Rome Free Academy, where it rolled past the Black Knights 17-5.
Things were settled by halftime, the Warriors having roared out to a 13-1 edge behind a well-balanced attack. Hope and Brancato both scored four times, Bella Brancato adding an assist as Henry got three goals and two assists, with Halpin getting two goals and three assists.
Just behind them, Veronica Brancato cranked out a pair of assists, helped by Emily Salanger and Colleen Tifft, who both earned single goals as Sterio also earned an assist. Between them, goalies Marissa Madonna and Maggie Bradley made five saves.
On Saturday, Liverpool rebounded with a 22-1 romp over Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, a game where Hope, Halpin and Kate Salanger each scored three times and Veronica Brancato set up their chances with five assists.
Henry, Tifft and Sterio gained two goals apiece, with Fitzpatrick putting together a goal and three assists. Lauren Caldwell had one goal and one assist. Reva Mussi, Leigha Johnson, Lexi Emmi, Emily Salanger and Zoe Morgenroth also picked up goals.
C-NS didn’t stay quiet last week – in fact, the trip it took to Westhill turned out quite noisy, with the Northstars nearly squandering a four-goal lead in the final two minutes before hanging on to beat the Warriors 8-7.
Despite having a much smaller roster, Westhill controlled the game’s pace and only trailed, 4-3, at halftime. It remained in close proximity until, in the final minutes, C-NS appeared to get clear with back-to-back goals that created an 8-4 margin.
Showing its full determination, Westhill started winning draws and, in the last two minutes of regulation, broke out for three goals, cutting the margin to one. It took the Northstars winning a last-minute draw in order for it to run out the remaining clock.
Jessica Meneilly netted five of C-NS’s eight goals, the passes often coming from Brenna Duffy, who had five assists. Megan Tryniski, Makena Scarlata and Olivia Massena earned one goal apiece.
For Westhill, Caroline Miller finished with three goals, while Haileigh Farrell and Abby Stack earned two goals apiece. They were often thwarted, though, by the C-NS goalie duo of Lauren Gilbert and Kaitlyn Lippert, who combined for 11 saves.