What late-season defeats to Fayetteville-Manlius and Baldwinsville had taught the Liverpool girls soccer team was reinforce a lesson the Warriors had known from the outset.
If Liverpool wanted to defend its Section III Class AA title, it would need to depend on its defense, and that proud unit was the main reason the no. 2 seed Warriors survived last Thursday’s sectional quarterfinal, a 1-0 victory over no. 7 seed West Genesee.
A pair of regular-season victories by Liverpool over the Wildcats did not scare the visitors one bit. For most of the first half, the two sides traded good scoring opportunities, neither able to break through.
Then Morgan Mitchell pushed a shot pat WG goalie Liz Croft late in the half. It was all Croft would allow, meaning that the Warriors would spend a lot of time protecting a slim margin.
And it would do so, the back line of Gabby Swan, Divya Duraisamy, Drew Patterson and Natalie Tauro turning back ample Wildcats chances while Megan Merrifield recorded six saves for the shutout.
Now Liverpool sat back and waited to see who it would face in the AA semifinals. On Friday, Rome Free Academy beat Central Square 4-0, so the no. 3 seed Black Knights would get the no. 2 seed Warriors Wednesday at CBA’s Alibrandi Stadium.
Back on Friday, Cicero-North Syracuse, with the no. 5 seed, visited no. 4 seed Fayetteville-Manlius, with the winner to get top seed Baldwinsville in the semifinal round.
A pair of defeats, by 3-1 and 2-0 margins, to the Hornets in the regular season motivated the Northstars to get even here, but it could not do so, frustrated throughout a 4-0 loss.
Just 5:18 had elapsed before Rachel Dobricki slid a shot past C-NS goalie Olivia Haven. For much of the rest of the half, the Hornets continued to apply pressure, yet were unable to add to that one-goal margin.
But with 10 seconds left in the half, Cady Barns slipped free and, by putting in the second goal, dashed whatever momentum C-NS hoped to gain from keeping things close.
Now with a heavy dose of energy and confidence, F-M made it 3-0 just 2:28 into the second half as Anna Hartzheim found the net. A late goal by Alexa LaRocca sealed the win as Hannah Knych got credit for a pair of assists and Sabrina Suriani stopped all five C-NS shots she faced. Haven finished with eight saves.
Thus, it was F-M taking on B’ville in the AA sectional semifinal following Liverpool’s game with RFA. The doubleheader at CBA kicks off at 5:30.