The Cicero-North Syracuse field hockey earned its first Section III Class A title since 2014 by defeating two-time defending champion Baldwinsville 3-1 in Sunday's title game at Fayetteville-Manlius.
Back in eighth grade, Allison Bartlett and Jamie Wagner were part of Cicero-North Syracuse’s last Section III Class A championship team.
Four long years later, they were a big reason why the Northstars climbed back to the top.
Key goals from Bartlett and Wagner, combined with an early tally from Jamie Snyder and stellar work by the entire defensive unit, helped C-NS defeat two-time defending champion Baldwinsvlile 3-1 in Sunday night’s sectional final at Fayetteville-Manlius.
“Going out with a bang (as sectional champions) was what we all wanted,” said Bartlett. “It’s a great feeling.”
“These girls have worked extremely hard for this,” said C-NS head coach Pat Kennedy. “They did everything we asked of them. Watching these girls win is what it’s all about.”
And beating B’ville was particularly sweet, since it was the Bees who knocked off the Northstars 2-0 on this same field in last year’s sectional final. Then they split two regular-season meetings this fall.
But unlike its tense 2-1 victory over Rome Free Academy in last Tuesday’s sectional semifinal at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium, C-NS didn’t wait until the late stages to get on the board – in fact, it hardly waited at all.
Less than 90 seconds into the game, on its first attack, a pass from the right side bounced to the point, where Jamie Snyder pushed a point-blank shot past B’ville goalie Hailey Boda.
That, said Kennedy, took a lot of pressure off his players, and it continued to control the early stages while preparing itself for the Bees’ inevitable response.
It came when Mackenzie Wodka got free up the middle for a solo breakaway with 12:40 left in the half. Goalie Ally Wagner went out to meet Wodka and made a superb stop to keep her team in front.
Less than three minutes before halftime, Bartlett had her big moment. She took the ball at midfield, drove past multiple Bees defenders, waited for Boda to drift from the net and then poked the ball past her for a spectacular goal.
Though that gave the Northstars a 2-0 lead going into the second half, it knew B’ville would go all-out to catch up – which it did, forcing defenders like Mina Erickson, Olivia Brown, Emily Kuehn and Anna Melfi to make several big stops.
Six different times, C-NS defended penalty corners, only bending on the seventh try when Katie Tuch deflected in a shot with 13:50 left, cutting the Northstars’ margin to one.
At that point, said Jamie Wagner, “our best defense was to get a goal”, which it did less than three minutes later.
Finally establishing an attack after a long spell in its own end, C-NS forced a penalty corner and got a great shot that Boda somehow stopped. But the ball bounced out to Wagner, whose shot skidded through defenders and got past Boda, too, for a clinching tally.
Each side had to make a comeback in their respective sectional semifinals, with C-NS doing so late in regulation to oust no. 4 seed RFA as B’ville went to overtime to top no. 3 seed F-M by that exact same score.
Going first, the Northstars took on an RFA side it had faced 11 days earlier at Bragman Stadium, beating them 1-0. That game was tough and close, and the rematch was, too.
Both sides had plenty of chances during the early stages, but only the Black Knights converted, the goal coming from Kaitlyn Mastracco in the first half.
RFA maintained that 1-0 advantage deep into the second half, turning back many C-NS charges as Lilliana Ferrucci was amassing seven saves, equaling the total of Ally Wagner.
As time ran low, C-NS maintained its poise and, with 8:12 left, tied it 1-1 on Snyder’s goal. Energized by that tally, the Northstars continued to apply pressure, winning it when, with 2:16 to play in regulation, Jamie Wagner converted. Bartlett and Vanessa Wilkins assisted on those goals.
A win over B’ville in the sectional title game followed.Wagner said that sharing this with her fellow players, which she compared to a family, was the best part of all, and their story is not yet over.
On Saturday afternoon at Bragman Stadium, C-NS takes on Section IV champion Maine-Endwell in the Class A regional final, with the winner advancing to the Nov. 10-11 state final four at Williamsville North High School near Buffalo.