Cicero-North Syracuse midfielder T.J. Sprague (10) celebrates his goal just 1:16 into the first half of Thursday night's Class AA semifinal against Fayetteville-Manlius. Early goals by Sprague and Bryan Sibble held up as the Northstars beat the Hornets 2-1.
SYRACUSE Twelve long years ago, Cicero-North Syracuse and Liverpool squared off for a Section III boys soccer championship.
They came close to clashing again, but Utica Proctor spoiled those plans in a dramatic Thursday-evening Class AA semifinal doubleheader at Nottingham High School.
Liverpool, the top seed, went into double overtime with Proctor, the no. 5 seed, only to fall in a 2-1 classic. Two hours later, C-NS, the no. 2 seed, fended off the comeback attempt of no. 6 seed Fayetteville-Manlius and won by that same 2-1 margin.
All of this began with the Warriors, absent an outright sectional title since 2002, trying to trip up a Proctor side that had already dethroned four-time defending champion Baldwinsville in the quarterfinals, giving up the first goal before rallying to win in yet another 2-1 decision.
Much the same thing happened here, only on a delayed basis. The Warriors and Raiders battled through a 0-0 first half, neither side budging despite a litany of good scoring chances.
However, early in the second half Liverpool seized a 1-0 lead, Owen Thompson landing the go-ahead goal off a feed from Nick Zingaro.
Proctor, as it did with B'ville, quickly responded as Moulid Somow took a pass from Jose Figueroa and ripped it past Liverpool goalie Cody Peck, making it 1-1, where it stood for the rest of regulation.
Through the first of the sudden-victory 15-minute overtime periods, Liverpool had the bulk of chances to win it, but its shots kept getting chased down by Raiders goalie Refik Begic, who recorded 12 saves.
Half of the second OT period passed, too, and the battle seemed to be drifting toward penalty kicks. But with 7:06 to play, Kevin Gordon, off a feed from Somow, drilled a shot from 30 yards out that eluded Peck and fit inside the left post, giving Proctor its first-ever sectional finals berth - and suddenly ending the Warriors' season at 14-3-1.