Each of the last three years, the Bethlehem girls soccer team had reached the regional round of the state Class AA playoffs, only to be denied by the Section III champion.
The Lady Eagles put an end to that pattern Saturday at Stillwater High School.
Jackie Kearney and Autumn Fetterolf each scored goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half to help Bethlehem turn back Liverpool 2-0 in the regional final and earn a berth in this weekend's state tournament in Cortland.
"You win that Section II title four years in a row and everything is great, and then you get to this game and you realize that you haven't won here the past three years," said Bethlehem coach Tom Rogan. "To finally get that win and go to Cortland is awesome."
Things looked shaky for Bethlehem in the first half. Liverpool challenged the Lady Eagles several times, including one shot by Nicole Carfi that struck off the crossbar.
"Our Achilles heel all year is that we've not taken advantage of our [scoring] chances," said Liverpool coach Kevin McGrane.
A gusty southerly breeze that helped Liverpool create some of its scoring chances in the first half did the same for Bethlehem early in the second half. The difference was that the Lady Eagles finished those scoring chances.
The first opportunity came less than five minutes into the second half. Tara Teal struck a lead pass to the top of the Liverpool penalty box, where Kearney caught up to it. Kearney then chipped the ball by Liverpool goaltender Tori Corsaro, who charged out of the net in an attempt to dive on it. The ball rolled into the empty net to put the Lady Eagles ahead 1-0.
"It was an awesome ball from Tara," said Kearney. "She flicked it on to me, and I was able to get open."