POTSDAM – Four in a row.
The Chateaugay girls varsity soccer team collected its fourth consecutive Section 10 title on Thursday, defeating the Parishville-Hopkinton Panthers for the third time during the 2012 fall Northern Athletic Conference season to earn the Class D crown with a 3-0 victory.
The win by the lady Bulldogs propels them into state play, hosting the Section 7, Class D champion Elizabethtown-Lewis Lions at noon on Saturday, right back at Potsdam High Schools turf field.
With the victory, Chateaugay also kept its record perfect for the year at 19-0-0 heading into the state playoff game while the Lions enter the contest with a 12-6-1 mark. Elizabethtown-Lewis defeated the seven-time defending champion Chazy Eagles 2-0 in the Section 7 title match.
It didnt take the Chateaugay girls long to establish which of the two squads was the dominant one on Thursday, as the Bulldogs weathered a brief offensive flurry by the Panthers following the opening whistle, without allowing a shot on goal.
The lady Bulldogs broke out of their defensive zone and, seemingly, scored the games first goal just six minutes, 18 seconds in, but the marker was waved off on an offside call.
The call didnt deter the CCS girls as they came right back and launched one off the post, then sent three consecutive shots wide of the intended target.
Chateaugay finally ended the scoreless deadlock just past the 10-minute mark as co-defensive player of the year Hannah Cook stole a ball at midfield, raced down the right wing and sent a left-footed shot past P-H goalie Marlee Wilson. Cooks unassisted tally came at 10:07.
Parishville-Hopkinton regrouped and took the ball back up the field for its best scoring chance of the game as a foul was called 25-yards out, which resulted in a direct kick for the Panthers. Chateaugay goalie Makayla Fleury had little trouble deflecting the ball over the crossbar to maintain the shutout.
That was a real big save, stated CCS Coach Steve Lang. Makayla did a nice job. She was ready for the kick and had little trouble getting to the right spot.
It was all Chateaugay after that, as the Bulldogs kept applying offensive pressure and solved Wilson for the second time in the opening half with 21:26 left before the break.
Co-offensive MVP Alexis Beach received a sweet feed from Stephanie Whyte. Whyte stole the ball from a Parishville-Hopkinton player 20 yards out, slid the ball to Beach, who did the rest. Beach rolled to her right and put the shot just inside of the near post for a 2-0 Chateaugay lead.
The Bulldogs didnt stop there and kept up their offensive pressure with the Panthers dodging a bullet with under 30 seconds left in the half, as Chateaugay again came close to scoring, but sent another shot just over the crossbar.
Chateaugay kept up its offensive onslaught on the P-H defense to open up the second half, with Katie Beach sending a header just wide as co-offensive MVP Courtney Boyea lifted a crossing pass to the right spot for the younger Beach sister.
Chateaugays Courtney Yando also launched a blast from 22 yards out, but that shot was just over the top of the crossbar. The Bulldogs got the insurance goal they were looking for as Danielle Charland sent Cook in on another break with a nice lead pass at midfield. Cook, a Chateaugay junior, outraced a pair of P-H defenders down the field and beat Wilson with a low liner to the far corner.
That third goal took a lot of pressure off us, pointed out Coach Lang. Its easier for a team to stay in the game down just two goals than it is three. If they score, then its only a one-goal game. Fortunately for us, that scenario never came into play.
That didnt stop the lady Bulldogs as they came close to scoring once again, as Katie Beach rattled a shot off the post with just over 17 minutes remaining in the season for the Panthers.
Just as we thought, they (Parishville-Hopkinton) didnt quit and they did their best to come after us, said Lang. They are a well-coached team and Evan (P-H Coach Harper) always puts a quality team on the field. They are always well prepared.
Its tough, very tough, to beat a team three times in one season, but this group of girls worked extremely hard all season long to get to this point, summarized the Chateaugay coach. We got to where we wanted to be, back in the state playoffs.
Backstopping the Section 10 title-game win was Fleury, who made a total of seven saves during the victory, but faced only the one difficult shot via the direct kick. The other six saves were rollers that were sent from afar, as the Bulldog defenders did their jobs and kept the Panthers away from point-blank range.
We came in and wanted to limit their quality chances, and we succeeded, Lang added. I cant say enough about how well we played defensively, not just one or two girls, but the entire team.
The Chateaugay girls will face the Elizabethtown-Lewis Lions at noon on Saturday at Potsdam High School. The winner of Saturdays contest will advance to the state semifinals at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17 at Thompkins-Cortland Community College in Dryden (east of Ithaca).
Coach Harper, who once led three Parishville-Hopkinton teams to the NYS Final Four, credited the quality of the Lady Bulldogs and his Panther contingent.
We had a very good team and they worked hard. They were a very good group to coach, said Harper.
They would rank right up there with our final four teams of the eighties, he concluded.
CLASS D BOYS
In the all-NAC West Division Class D boys soccer final Thursday night at Potsdam Central, Jon Sloan finished off a play set up by Mike Guardino23 minutes into the second half and the Bulldogs made it stand for their first-ever Section10 title.
Chris Power made 13 saves backstopping the shutout while Zane Mono made 10 saves for the Pirates (11-4).
The Bulldogs improved to 11-3-2 with the win and will now take on Section 7 champion Chazy on Saturday in the state Class D quarter-finals starting at 2 p.m.