Liverpool Baldwinsville and Fayetteville-Manlius earned spots in the Section III Class AA boys soccer championship game by winning tight semifinals Tuesday night at Liverpool High School Stadium.
The four-time defending champion Bees were pushed to the limit by Cicero-North Syracuse. B'ville won a shootout, though, after the teams finished regulation, and two overtime periods tied 3-3. The Bees captured the shootout 5-4.
The top-seed Hornets were also made to work to advance. F-M rallied from its first deficit of the entire season to defeat no. 4 seed Christian Brothers Academy 2-1.
The Bees will bring a 17-1 record into the final. F-M is 17-0-1. The Hornets beat B'ville, 3-0, in their lone regular season meeting Oct. 15 at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium.
B'ville coach Tim Scheemaker is expecting nothing but the Hornets' best effort when they meet for the third successive time in the sectional finals.
"It's going to be a really tough game," Scheemaker said. "We had some guys cramping up tonight and we need some recovery time."
Recovery is a good way to describe the Bees' win over the Northstars. B'ville looked comfortable coming out of halftime with a 3-1 lead as Ben Ramin scored twice and assisted on Adam Gentile's tally.
That advantage last all of six minutes and 53 seconds - the time it took for CNS striker Darren Cooper to score twice.
"We don't make it easy on ourselves," Scheemaker said. "But you have to give CNS (credit) for coming back and tying the game. They're a very good team."
The game settled down after Cooper tied it. The teams slugged it out the rest of regulation, and for two overtimes without finding the net.
CNS (12-6-1) actually did find the net in the dying moments of the second OT, but the goal was disallowed. Logan Roberts neatly sent a direct kick into the corner, but his effort was nullified when the referee ruled he took the shot too quickly.