A good road trip for the Bethlehem girls soccer team was nearly a whole lot better.
During Labor Day weekend, the Eagles faced its first serious test of the 2015 season — traveling to the Syracuse area to face a pair of perennial Section III contenders, and emerging with a hard-earned split.
Having scored 13 goals in its season opener against Schenectady, Bethlehem had a load of confidence as the trip began on Friday night at Cicero-North Syracuse. And the Eagles prevailed 2-1 over the Northstars.
The game was still scoreless when, late in the first half, freshman Brianna Price came off the bench and, seconds later, put a shot past C-NS goalie Marissa Catania. Bethlehem doubled its 1-0 lead early in the second half when sophomore Holly Moore converted.
Olivia Miranda and Shannon Russo got credit for the assists on the Eagles’ scoring plays. In the net, Miranda Manziano recorded eight saves and nearly got the shutout until a foul inside the 18-yard box allowed C-NS’s Kate Wagner to convert a penalty kick late in regulation.
With that victory on the ledger, Bethlehem turned its attention to Baldwinsville, whom it met less than 24 hours later. On the brink of a draw, the Eagles saw that slip away in a 1-0 defeat to the Bees.
Already this season, B’ville had gone 3-0, including a tournament victory at Clarence (Section VI) where it beat the Red Devils (like Bethlehem, a state final four team in 2014) in the finals.
Here, hot, sunny and humid conditions drained both teams, who used frequent substitutions from the opening minutes onward in an attempt to stay fresh. It didn’t always work out.
In fact, for large segments of regulation, Bethlehem found itself in a defensive mode against a fresher B’ville side that hadn’t played since Tuesday. But Ellie Bell, Andrea Saxe, Madison Ehring and the rest of the Eagles’ back line met that challenge, and Manziano made three good stops in the second half.
Regulation ended 0-0, as did a first overtime period where, again, the Bees swarmed and the Eagles resisted.
Then with 3:54 left in the second OT, B’ville’s Addison Hornsey crossed from the left corner and Bella May, who had missed on some earlier opportunities, hit a touch shot that eluded Manziano and found the net for the game-winner.
Bethlehem might not be done with Section III, of course. Another Section II title would mean a Class AA regional game against the Section III champions. A year ago, the Eagles beat Liverpool 2-1 in overtime in that regional final.