Baldwinsville defender Carolyn Brussel (17) leaps for a header flanked by Fallon Morris (18) in front of Liverpool’s Carly Kovarik (4) in last Tuesday night’s game, where the Bees lost, 2-1, to the Warriors.
It took nearly two-thirds of the regular season before the Baldwinsville girls soccer team had its long-awaited reunion with Liverpool, but again it ended with the Bees frustrated and the Warriors happy.
Nearly 11 months have passed, and the picture in Section III Class AA is not that different than it was when Liverpool survived penalty kicks and outlasted B’ville in last fall’s sectional final.
Just like in 2016, the Bees and Warriors have separated themselves from the rest of the contenders, at least in the Salt City Athletic Conference Metro division, and their first regular-season encounter last Tuesday night at LHS Stadium again went in Liverpool’s favor.
Here, though, the 2-1 decision did not require anything more than the 80 minutes of regulation to settle things. But it did require the Warriors to play strong, consistent defense and take full advantage of the scoring chances given to them, early and late.
Teams were settling into the game when, at the 5:49 mark, Carly Kovarik connected on a special goal. From the point 20 yards in front of the net, Kovarik dribbled to a tough angle on the right, and then struck a right-footed shot that fit inside the top left corner of the net, out of Meghan Wilson’s reach.
Other than that, B’ville’s defense, anchored by Carolyn Brussel, Gabby Piontkowski and Leah Burrer, did a solid job limiting Liverpool’s touches, and as the half wore on it got most of the possession time, nearly tying it on Simone Neivel’s shot that Megan Merrifield had to dive to stop in the 17th minutes.
Less than six minutes before halftime, the Bees’ pressure led to a tying goal when Neivel’s cross from the left side was headed in by Graisa Madden. And there were other close-up looks, too, but it stayed 1-1 going into the break.
Much of the second half was a defensive stalemate. Liverpool’s back line kept B’ville’s forwards from getting too close, and Merrifield finished with six saves.
Meanwhile, the Warriors gradually built up its own pressure. And with 11:58 left, Emily Dorr’s free kick fell among several players in front of the net, where Morgan Mitchell flicked it past Wilson, who injured her hand and left the game.
B’ville tried to answer in the homestretch, and had two good chances, from Brussel’s free kick that sailed over the net to Katie Pascale’s hard shot from the left that flew inches wide.
Happy as the Warriors were to win this one, it knows that it will have to travel to Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium Oct. 14 to meet the Bees again in the regular-season finale – and a third playoff encounter wouldn’t surprise anyone, either.
In the short term, B’ville looked to rebound Thursday night against a Fayetteville-Manlius side it beat 3-1 earlier in the month. Now, the Hornets had won three in a row and were playing at home, but the Bees still got the best of them, gaining a 2-0 shutout.
In the 23rd minute, B’ville went out in front on Neivel’s goal, assisted by Brussel. For much of the game, it stayed 1-0 thanks to a stingy Hornets defense, but F-M could not put together a tying goal, and the Bees sealed it when Hannah Mimas converted with 56 seconds left.
On Saturday afternoon, B’ville was back home to face New Hartford, who had just pushed West Genesee to overtime in its previous game. And this game was tight for a while before a late scoring surge allowed the Bees to stop the Spartans 4-0.
Mimas put her team in front in the 15th minute, the goal assisted by Neivel. And it stayed 1-0 deep into the second half, the Bees constantly frustrated as New Hartford goalie Abby Buchholz amassed 22 saves.
Then, with 13:25 to play, Pascale, off a feed from Madden, put one past Buccholz to make it 2-0. with the pressure off, B’ville tacked on goals by Neivel with nine minutes left (again assisted by Madden) and by Kelsey DeLola, who tapped home Brussel’s free kick.
Overall, the Bees stood at 11-2, and would rest for most of this week, only playing once as it hosts West Genesee on Thursday night.