Liverpool junior midfielder Emma Geyer (8) settles the ball and looks up the field during Tuesday night's Class AA semifinal against Cicero-North Syracuse. The Warriors beat the Northstars 1-0 and advanced to the championship game against Fayetteville-Manlius.
SYRACUSE A month apart, Liverpool's girls soccer team ran into Cicero-North Syracuse twice - and both times would emerge with 1-0 victories.
It was the latter of these two occasions that meant more, for it came during Tuesday night's Section III Class AA semifinal at Nottingham High School.
As the no. 2 seed, the Warriors turned back the no. 3 seed Northstars with a disciplined effort, though C-NS fought to the last seconds to try and pull even, not finished off until a corner kick was turned away by Liverpool at the horn.
It was that first meeting, on Sept. 25, that marked a turning point for the Warriors, whose early-September struggles, combined with a torn ACL that sidelined junior midfielder Julia Heberger, created lots of doubt about its sectional title defense.
Exactly five weeks later, the two neighbors and rivals were together again, and it was the Northstars that made most of the early moves, including a shot by Hanna Haven in the 15th minute that had plenty of power, but flew just over the net.
Barely three minutes later, Liverpool had a free kick. Alyssa Bittel's shot started to bounce around in front of the net, and Breanna Sharpe, breaking free, fired the ball past C-NS goalie Alyssa Jim to put her team in front.
And that's where it would stay. For its part, C-NS's defense was quite effective in slowing up the Warriors' most dangerous player, Ore Akinpelu, rarely giving her open space to run.
As the game wore on, though, it was clear that the Warriors were just as stingy. Bittel, Jennifer Higgins, Morgan Wright, Chelsea Bowers and the rest of the Liverpool back line constantly frustrated Haven, Stephanie Liberati and the rest of the Northstars' attackers.
Even as Higgins and Sharpe went out with injuries late in regulation, C-NS could not pull even. Haven's hard shot with 12:20 to play drifted wide, and Reid Garner had a chance with 4:25 left, but also was off target.
Liverpool held on and earned a shot at back-to-back sectional titles when it meets no. 4 seed Fayetteville-Manlius in the championship game Saturday night at 6 p.m. at Marcellus High School. F-M needed penalty kicks to knock off top seed Baldwinsville in the other semifinal.